Disciplinary meetings - where to start
You may have received a letter from your employer asking you to go to a disciplinary meeting. This page outlines what a disciplinary meeting is, why your employer has asked you to go to one, how to prepare for it, what will happen at the meeting and what the possible outcomes are.
What is a disciplinary meeting?
A disciplinary meeting is one which could lead to disciplinary action. Examples of disciplinary action include:
- a first or final warning
- suspension without pay
Why have you been asked to go to one?
You may have been asked to go to a disciplinary meeting because your employer is concerned about:
- your conduct, for example, something you have done or not done
- your capability, for example, your employer doesn't think you're capable of doing your job, or of doing it well enough
- your long-term absence
- another reason affecting your work.
The letter asking you to go to the meeting should give you enough information to know why your employer has invited you to it. If they have any evidence, for example, of misconduct or your lack of ability, they should let you have this beforehand. They should give you enough time to consider it and find evidence in support of your case. Your evidence can include witnesses.
If your employer has not given you any evidence, you should ask them for it. If you need more time to consider the evidence they have given you, you can ask for the meeting to be postponed so you have extra time. The amount of time you ask for should be reasonable.
What should you do before the meeting?
To prepare for the meeting, you should:
- make sure you know the case against you and the evidence for it
- make sure you're prepared - have your own evidence and list of points you want to raise
- find a companion to take to the meeting, if you want one. If you want someone to come with you, you must ask your employer for this.
What if you cannot find anyone to go with you to the meeting?
If you cannot find anyone to go with you to the meeting, make sure you take notes during the meeting. Don't let them rush you so that you don't feel able to take notes.
What if you can't make the time or place set for the meeting?
You should make every attempt to go to the meeting. However, if you or your companion can't make the date of the meeting for a reason outside your control, you can ask your employer to postpone it to a later date. You should suggest another date within five working days. You can also ask for the meeting to be moved to another location, if it's not too far away.
If you're unable to attend on the day for an unforeseen reason, for example, transport problems, you should let your employer know as soon as possible.
If you fail to attend the meeting and don't have a reasonable excuse for not attending, the meeting may go ahead without you and you will not be able to put your case.
Who will be at the meeting?
The people at the meeting will vary depending on the size of your employer. However, there will usually be you and your manager, and possibly:
- someone from your HR department
- someone to take notes
- your companion, if you have one
- witnesses if you or your employer have any.
What will happen at the meeting?
Your employer will explain the reason for the meeting and go through the evidence they have. They should give you the opportunity to put your case and answer the allegations made against you. You should be allowed to ask questions, give your evidence and call witnesses. If you have a companion, they will be able to talk with you.
What if you get upset during the meeting?
If you get upset, need time to calm down, or just to think about something, you can ask for a short break. If the meeting has become heated, it may be a good idea for all sides to let things cool down before continuing with the meeting.
How long will you have to wait for a decision?
It's good practice for your employer not to give you their decision at the end of the meeting but to do so a short time later. They should have time to consider the case before coming to a decision and making additional checks, for example, if there is a dispute as to what happened.
What are the possible decisions your employer could make?
After the meeting, your employer could decide:
- that no further action is necessary
- to discipline you in some way, for example, give you a formal warning, ask you to improve your performance within a certain period of time, suspend you without pay, or demote you
- to dismiss you.
What if you disagree with the decision?
If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal against it. Your employer should tell you that you have the right to appeal when they give you their decision.
How long will a disciplinary be held against you?
How long a disciplinary will be held against you depends on what the sanction is. For example, a first written warning could last six months, but a final one could last twelve months.
- Preparing for a disciplinary meeting
- Who can accompany you to a disciplinary meeting
- Appealing against disciplinary action