Disciplinary processes: our top three tips for employers

Disciplinary processes are one of the most daunting and critical issues employers face. Worried about getting them wrong? We’ve got you covered. We’ll be sharing our top three disciplinary hearing tips for employers to help you avoid the common mistakes we come across when speaking to clients up and down the country.


Tip #1 – Use the correct disciplinary procedure

If an employment tribunal claim is brought, it’s important to know the areas that will be looked at.  

First, the tribunal will assess your reasoning for the employee’s dismissal and whether it was fair. The second is whether a fair disciplinary process was followed. Fair reasons for dismissal include: 


  • Conduct – Did your employee commit an act of misconduct? 
  • Capability or qualifications of the employee – Did the employee not meet the standards for performance that were outlined? 
  • Redundancy – Are the grounds for redundancy fair? Did the decision to dismiss fall within the band of responses?
  • Statutory illegality – Are there changes in circumstances that prevent the employee from continuing in the role? Perhaps your employee has been banned from driving and can’t carry out job-specific duties, for example.
  • Another substantial reason – E.g., has your employee’s fixed-term contract come to an end?


Did you follow a fair dismissal procedure?

It’s not enough to just provide a fair reason for dismissal and expect your issues to be solved. A tribunal won’t be forgiving if you can’t prove your disciplinary procedure backs up your reason for fair dismissal.  

If you’re a Citation client, you’ll have a disciplinary policy and procedure in your handbook. This complies with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, which you’re legally required to follow. Acas states that you should: 


  • Deal with issues quickly, including not unreasonably delaying meetings or decisions. 
  • Establish the facts of each case. Be thorough and carry out any necessary investigations.
  • Inform the employee of any problem.
  • Allow the employee to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union rep at any disciplinary meeting. 
  • Need to take appropriate action? Decide on this after the disciplinary meeting concludes.
  • Always provide employees with an opportunity to lodge an appeal. 


When taking disciplinary action, it’s important to follow these procedures at all levels.

If you don’t, you could be found guilty of procedurally unfair dismissal in a tribunal. This could bump any compensatory award up by up to 25%, which is something you and your business can do without!


Tip #2 – Conduct a proper investigation

To do this, you must follow a reasonable and thorough investigation, and gather all relevant evidence before you can make a decision as to whether formal action will be taken.

It’s the employer’s responsibility to take the time to establish any facts of the case and pay attention in particular to investigating any avenues that might provide evidence in support of the employee’s case.

If you hold an investigation meeting, we’d recommend you invite the employee to attend. Remember to remind employees involved in the investigation to refrain from discussing the allegations against them.

They should, however, be given the opportunity to ask colleagues for statements if they feel this could support their case.


Tip #3 – Don’t have the same person handle the entire disciplinary process

Wherever possible, we recommend your disciplinary process covers three core stages:


  • an investigation hearing
  • a disciplinary hearing 
  • an appeal hearing


In some cases, too many cooks can spoil the broth – but not in the case of a disciplinary process. Having a separate person conducting each stage of the process reduces the risk of unfair dismissal claims. 

In an ideal world, the investigation, disciplinary and appeal hearing should be conducted by different people of increasing seniority. 

If you run a small business, we understand this can be difficult though. At the very least, it would be sensible to have a different person conducting any appeal hearing. 

Remember, from a warning to a dismissal, every single employee has the right to appeal any form of disciplinary action.


Our HR & Employment Law Package

Carrying out a disciplinary procedure is easier with us by your side. With our Employment Law & HR services, we’ll make sure you’ve got all the policies, processes, procedures and advice you need to protect your business. 

We’ll provide 24/7 Employment Law expertise, lifting the pressure off your shoulders. From employee handbooks to fair dismissal procedures, get everything you need to help your business comply with employment law. 

So, speak to us today and get the support you and your business deserves. 

For further information, check out our other handy resources on disciplinary processes below.

Common disciplinary procedure mistakes

How to hold a disciplinary hearing

Get more information

Pop in your details and we'll call you straight back

We'll get back to you as soon as we can.