What you need to know about disciplinary action

Your employer may take formal disciplinary action against you if they are unhappy with any aspect of your behaviour in the workplace. However they must follow a fair procedure when doing so.

Help with disciplinary proceedings
26th April 2018

If your employer is unhappy with the quality of your work, how you act in the workplace, your attendance or any other serious issue, they may take disciplinary action against you. They might discuss their concerns with you informally beforehand, but they are under no obligation to do so.

The disciplinary process

The formal disciplinary process your employer uses should be freely available in writing to all staff. They should explain the circumstances which might lead to disciplinary action being taken, and set out the process that will be followed.

The disciplinary process your employer uses should be freely available in writing to all staff.

The disciplinary procedure laid out by your employer should abide by the following steps:

  1. You should receive a letter explaining the issue at hand.
  2. Your manager should arrange a meeting (known as a ‘disciplinary hearing’) in which the issue can be discussed and you can put forward your side of the story.
  3. A disciplinary decision should be made by your employer regarding whether any action should be taken over the problem and what that would be.
  4. You can appeal against the decision in writing if you feel that the outcome is unfair.

If you appeal, another hearing should be held, ideally led by someone who has not formerly been involved with your disciplinary proceedings. After this, your employer will make a final decision on the issue and inform you of it in writing.

Disciplinary hearings

The disciplinary hearing is your chance to explain yourself and provide any evidence that you feel proves you are in the right or puts your actions in a more favourable light. If you mention anything during the hearing which your employer feels they need to look into, the hearing may be rearranged for a later date so they have time to investigate.

You have the right to bring someone with you any formal meeting. You can bring a colleague or a trade union official or union representative, as long as you let your employer know beforehand. They may help you to summarise your case and support you during the meeting, though they cannot answer questions from your employer on your behalf.

You have the right to bring someone with you any formal meeting.

You may be suspended from work while disciplinary proceedings are ongoing. If your contract states that your employer can suspend you without pay, this may happen, but otherwise your suspension will usually be on full pay. Your employment rights still apply during your suspension.

Your employer’s decision on what to do could result in any number of outcomes. They may decide that you are not at fault and drop the matter. On the other hand, they may issue a written warning, demote you or even dismiss you from your job. Alternatively, they may decide on less harsh measures, such as further training for your role.

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