This advice applies to Northern Ireland. Change country
Disciplinary meetings - Appealing against disciplinary action
You have the right to appeal against any disciplinary action your employer takes against you following a disciplinary meeting. You can do this if you feel that the action is wrong or unfair.
This page tells you more about how to appeal against a decision to take disciplinary action against you.
How should you appeal against your employer's decision?
When your employer writes to give you their decision, depending on the disciplinary action, they should set out:
- what you did wrong and the likely consequences of further misconduct if the hearing was for the way you have behaved at work
- what improvement they expect and within what period if the hearing was to take action about how well you do your job
- what penalty they are imposing and, if appropriate, how long it will last
- the deadline for appealing against the decision
- how you should appeal.
If they don't tell you how to appeal when they inform you of their decision, you should look at your employer's policy to see what it says about appealing against their decision. If there is no policy or the policy doesn't say anything about appealing, you should write to your employer as soon as possible saying why you are appealing.
What can you appeal against?
Depending on what's happened, when you appeal against the decision you can:
- Challenge the way the disciplinary action was taken against you. For example, if your employer did not follow their own disciplinary policy or the Labour Relations Agency Code of Practice.
- Challenge the evidence on which your employer based their decision. For example, if they believed something to be true without evidence or without enough evidence to support it.
- Challenge the decision your employer took. For example, if they have acted differently in the past in similar cases or the disciplinary action they're proposing is too harsh.
- Give new evidence or reasons why disciplinary action shouldn't be taken. For example, you may want to point out your clean disciplinary record, work record and length of service, or explain that you need training or adjustments to your work to avoid the problem happening again.
When should you present your appeal
You shouldn't delay if you want to appeal against your employer's decision. If you wait too long, your employer may think you have accepted their decision. You should also be aware that there is a three month time limit for bringing an employment tribunal claim. You should not wait for the outcome of your appeal if you are close to the deadline for making a claim to an employment tribunal.
How should you present your appeal
You should give your employer the reasons for your appeal in writing. You should give them enough time before the meeting to consider them.
Who will deal with your appeal?
The appeal process should be impartial. Your appeal should be dealt with by a manager who has not been involved in your case before and who is senior to the manager who made the decision.
If there is no senior or other manager at your place of work, and the company you work for has other branches or sites, it may be possible to bring in a manager from somewhere else within the company.This may not be possible, for example, if you work for a small employer and there is no other manager. If you work for a small charity and there is no other manager, the board of trustees could hear the appeal.
If your appeal is heard by the same manager, they must deal with it fairly and not punish you because you're appealing. If your manager doesn't deal with your appeal fairly, you can appeal against this.
If they uphold a decision to dismiss you without dealing with your appeal fairly, you may be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.
Will the appeal look at your whole case again?
Depending on the reasons for your appeal, the appeal meeting may be either:
- a review of the disciplinary action against you with no further hearing, or
- a re-hearing.
The appeal meeting will only look at your whole case again if it is a re-hearing.
Can you bring anyone to the appeal meeting with you?
You have the right to be accompanied to the appeal meeting. This is the same as for the disciplinary meeting.
When will you hear the outcome of your appeal?
Your employer should inform you of the outcome of your appeal in writing as soon as possible after the appeal hearing.
What can you do if you are still unhappy with the decision?
If you are still unhappy with the outcome of the disciplinary meeting, you may be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal. If you want to do this, you can ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on how to make a claim.
You must bring a claim to an employment tribunal within three months of when the act which you are complaining about happened. It's important to respond as quickly as possible. You can still make a claim even if your appeal has not yet been decided.
- Preparing for a disciplinary meeting [link to NI page when created]
- Who can accompany you to a disciplinary meeting