How do you hold a disciplinary hearing?

Disciplinary hearing

A disciplinary procedure can no doubt be a stressful one which is why you should have all the facts. It’s important that you’re aware of what actions to take, what your right are as an employer and what the employee’s rights are. Before taking any disciplinary action, there are certain legal steps you need to be aware of.

What is a disciplinary hearing?

A disciplinary hearing, otherwise known as a ‘disciplinary meeting’ is a discussion held between an employer and an employee. This is the opportunity where you can discuss the allegation(s) with evidence and listen to the employee.

You should note that before a disciplinary hearing, you should conduct a thorough investigation to gather all of your facts because most unfair dismissal claims fall down to a poor investigation.

How do I prepare for a disciplinary hearing?

First of all, you need to invite your employee to the disciplinary hearing in writing and this letter should include details of the investigation you have already conducted. This allows your employee to approach a representative and this might be a work colleague or a trade union representative.

The period of time from sending the invite to the actual disciplinary hearing tends to be 24-48 hours. This gives your employee enough time to confirm if they can or can’t attend the disciplinary hearing.

What happens during the disciplinary procedure?

During the hearing, you should address any housekeeping rules such as comfort breaks and the itinerary of the meeting. It’s important you have a minute-taker to note down what’s discussed in the meeting or you can record the meeting if all parties agree.

You must then outline the allegation(s) and you ask your employee for their response or to answer any questions related to the allegation(s). If you’re unsure of your employee’s answer, you should probe them to go into more detail so you get a full understanding of what you’re asking. At the end of the meeting, you should your employee or their representative if they have anything they’d like to before adjourning the meeting.

Do the same rules apply to younger employees?

All employees, not just young ones, have the right to have a representative at a disciplinary hearing by a fellow employee or an accredited trade union official.

However, we would always advise our clients to act in a reasonable manner. If the employee is immature or has other challenges, we would recommend that they can bring along whoever they wish, within reason. Hopefully, a junior employee will bring along a parent or guardian – in our experience, an adult voice of reason can help in this situation. If the disciplinary hearing could have an impact on an employee’s professional career, they should be allowed to be accompanied by a legal representative if they wish.

When it comes to holding disciplinary hearings, following a fair and lawful process is a must. So, to help you get it right, Cathy Topp, one of our HR & Employment Law Advisors, has taken to the camera to talk you through everything you need to know.

If you’re a client and you’ve got any questions about anything we’ve covered, remember, our experts are here for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with our advice line.

And if you’re not yet a client, you can contact the team on 0345 844 1111 or

We’ve also put together this FREE guide which covers the right steps to take when you’re holding a disciplinary, tips based on the most common questions we get on our advice line and mistakes that might trip you up and how best to avoid them.

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