Holding a disciplinary hearing - checklist

Reviewed by Michael Scutt, head of employment, Crane & Staples Solicitors

A business woman and two business men look at a checklist

Not sure how to go about holding a fair and lawful disciplinary hearing when an employee has breached workplace rules? Follow our step-by-step guide.

  • Gather the facts - the allegation, evidence, and the employee's past record.
  • Try to resolve the issue informally first. If this does not work, raise the matter formally without delay.
  • Inform the employee in writing, explaining the reason for the hearing and when it will take place; allow the employee at least three working days' notice to prepare a case.
  • Arrange for any witnesses, or evidence you or the employee wants to present at the hearing, to be available.
  • Inform the employee that they have the right to bring a colleague (or union representative) to the hearing.
  • Review your procedures and make sure they are fair and transparent and are in accordance with the Acas Code of Practice.
  • Prepare yourself to be calm and open-minded throughout the hearing; be ready to adjourn the hearing if tempers become frayed.
  • Begin the hearing by explaining what will happen; set and keep to an agenda to maintain control of the hearing.
  • Present the case against the employee.
  • Allow time for a response and consider the case from the other side.
  • Clarify any mitigating circumstances: for example, if the employee was unaware of the rules, or if similar behaviour is widespread.
  • Encourage suggestions to help overcome the problem.
  • Summarise the discussion and adjourn to make any further investigations necessary and to reach a decision.
  • Consider how serious the offence is, what action it merits and any steps which could be taken to improve the situation.
  • Inform the employee of your decision as soon as possible in writing; issue and explain any warning.
  • Explain that the employee has the right to appeal; if possible any appeal should be heard by someone senior who has not been involved in the initial hearing.
  • Throughout, keep a detailed written record; ask the employee to sign any improvement plan, and emphasise the consequences of further offences.
  • If you cannot reach an agreement, consider using an independent third party to help resolve the matter.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.