Your employer should have a written procedure setting out how it will deal with disciplinary issues. Your employer may have set out the procedure in its staff handbook or within your contract of employment.
Before your employer decides to follow a formal disciplinary procedure, it should undertake a reasonable investigation to ascertain the facts relating to the disciplinary allegations.
Your employer should provide you with the findings of its investigation and give you the opportunity to comment on those findings at any formal disciplinary hearing that follows.
The employer should write to you setting out the allegations against you and the evidence that will be relied upon during any hearing. You should have reasonable time to prepare for the hearing.
It is useful to speak with a solicitor as soon as you are aware that a disciplinary procedure may be followed. The longer you have to prepare the better you may be able to defend yourself.
It may be possible to assist you in the preparation of a statement and if you have enough time to review the evidence against you and provide advice and assistance along the way.
It is not usual for the employer to allow a solicitor to accompany you to the hearing unless the allegations of misconduct could also amount to criminal offences.
The Employer’s disciplinary procedures when followed should always comply to a minimum standard with the latest ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Failure to meet the minimum requirements of the Code can give rise, in some circumstances, to an unfair dismissal and/or result in an uplift in damages of up to 25%.
Disciplinary procedures are also sometimes used to deal with performance and capability issues as well as persistent ill health. It is usually wise for Employers to have separate polices to deal with the procedure in addressing these issues to try to ensure that any procedure is fair in all the circumstances and does not amount to conduct capable of being discriminatory.
The Employment team at Biscoes can assist in the drafting letters of response, statements and generally advise in relation to actions brought against employees relating to misconduct, capability, performance and ill health issues.