Disciplinary hearings and dismissal

Facing a disciplinary meeting is one of the worst and most stressful events that can happen to any employee.

Employers may invoke their disciplinary procedure for a number of reasons – misconduct, poor performance, unsatisfactory levels of attendance, poor timekeeping – and the outcome can range from an initial informal warning to summary dismissal in the most serious of cases. Whatever the circumstances, if you are involved in disciplinary proceedings, it is important that you understand your rights and obligations.

There are a number of factors which it is useful to understand:

  • employees have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative at a disciplinary meeting, but not necessarily at an investigatory meeting
  • an employer is entitled to set minimum standards for conduct, performance or attendance and to invoke its disciplinary procedure if you fall below those standards
  • if an employer asks you to attend a disciplinary meeting, it should conduct that meeting in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievances and with reference to the Acas guidance in this regard
  • if you are dismissed for misconduct, whether or not that dismissal is fair will depend on whether or not your employer has carried out a full investigation, given you full details of and the opportunity to respond to the allegations against you, reached a reasonable and genuine decision that you are guilty of the misconduct in question, and the sanction imposed upon you is reasonable
  • if you are dismissed for poor performance, whether or not that dismissal is fair will depend on whether or not your employer has explained the nature of the poor performance to you and what is required of you, given you warnings about your performance, and given you sufficient opportunity to improve your performance before a decision to dismiss is taken
  • if you feel you have been unfairly dismissed following disciplinary proceedings, then you may be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal provided you have one year’s continuous service with your employer and you bring your claim within three months less a day of the end of your employment

Our employment solicitors can advise you on your rights and obligations during the disciplinary process and on the tactical and practical considerations which may make a difference to the outcome of that process.

If the process ends badly for you and you want to bring an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, we will give you clear advice on the prospects of success and on the cost of bringing a claim as balanced against the compensation you might obtain. And, if you decide to go ahead with an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, we will fight your case as effectively and cost efficiently as possible in order to achieve a successful outcome.