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Disciplinary meetings - appealing against disciplinary action

This advice applies to England

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.

If you’re thinking of going to the Employment Tribunal

The time limit to go to the Employment Tribunal isn't affected by your appeal. Don't wait for the outcome of your appeal if you're close to the Employment Tribunal deadline.

You have 3 months less 1 day to make an Employment Tribunal claim. For example if the disciplinary action was on 13 July you have until 12 October to make a claim. Check how to start an Employment Tribunal claim.

How should you appeal against your employer's decision?

When your employer writes to give you their decision, depending on the reason for 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 you’ll be able to give new evidence and reasons why disciplinary action shouldn’t have been taken. You can challenge:

  • how your employer took disciplinary action against you - for example, if they didn’t follow their own disciplinary policy or the Acas Code of Practice 
  • the fairness of the disciplinary process - for example, if your employer didn't tell you about your right to be accompanied or didn't give you the evidence and information before a disciplinary hearing
  • the evidence your employer used to make their decision - for example, if they believed something to be true without evidence or without enough evidence to support it
  • the decision your employer made -  for example, if they have acted differently in the past in similar cases or the disciplinary action they're proposing is too harsh

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 might think you have accepted their decision. There might be a deadline to appeal - check your employer's disciplinary policy and any letters or emails they've sent you about the process.

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.

In some cases the same manager might have to hear your disciplinary and appeal, for example, if it’s a very small company. If this happens they should deal with the appeal fairly and impartially. If they aren't fair and impartial and they uphold a decision to dismiss you, you might 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 might be either:

  • a review of the disciplinary action against you with no further hearing
  • 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. Find out who can accompany you to a 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 might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal. 

You can find out how to start an employment tribunal claim. If you need help deciding what to do, you can talk to an adviser.

Next steps

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