What to expect at a disciplinary

Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey.
Jaclyn Glover, Deputy Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey.

Q. My employer has sent me a letter asking me to go to a disciplinary due to property damage. I have never been to a disciplinary before, what should I expect?

A. The letter asking you to go to the meeting should give you enough information to know why your employer has invited you to the disciplinary meeting. If they have any evidence they should let you have this beforehand.

If your employer has not given you any evidence, you should ask them for it. If you need more time to consider the evidence they have given you, you can ask for the meeting to be postponed so you have extra time.

What should you do before the meeting?

To prepare for the meeting, you should:

l make sure you know the case against you and the evidence for it

l make sure you’re prepared - have your own evidence and list of points you want to raise

l find a companion to take to the meeting, if you want one. If you want someone to come with you who is not an employee or trade union representative, you must ask your employers permission.

What if you cannot find anyone to go with you to the meeting?

If you cannot find anyone to go with you to the meeting, make sure you take notes during the meeting.

What if you can’t make the time or place set for the meeting?

l You should make every attempt to go to the meeting. However, if you or your companion can’t make the date of the meeting for a reason outside your control, you can ask your employer to postpone it to a later date. You should suggest another date within five working days.

l If you’re unable to attend on the day for an unforeseen reason, for example, transport problems, you should let your employer know as soon as possible.

l If you fail to attend the meeting and don’t have a reasonable excuse for not attending, the meeting may go ahead without you and you will not be able to put your case forward.

What will happen at the meeting?

l Your employer will explain the reason for the meeting and go through the evidence they have. They should give you the opportunity to put your case forward and answer the allegations made against you. You should be allowed to ask questions, give your evidence and call witnesses. If you have a companion, they will be able to talk with you.

What if you get upset during the meeting?

If you get upset, need time to calm down, or just to think about something, you can ask for a short break.

How long will you have to wait for a decision?

It’s good practice for your employer not to give you their decision at the end of the meeting but to do so a short time later.

What are the possible decisions your employer could make?

After the meeting, your employer could decide:

l that no further action is necessary

l to discipline you in some way, for example, give you a formal warning, ask you to improve your performance within a certain period of time, suspend you without pay, or demote you

l to dismiss you.

If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal against it, contact your local Citizens Advice to discuss your options.

The decision letter should lay out your rights to appeal and time limits.

How long will a disciplinary be held against you?

How long a disciplinary will be held against you depends on what the sanction is. For example, a first written warning could last six months, but a final one could last twelve months.

Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice at www.citizensadvice.co.uk or for further information go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/nireland