The outcome of a disciplinary hearing can, potentially, affect the rest of your career. Disciplinary processes, after all, can result in the worst case scenario of dismissal. If you think that you’re about to be disciplined or are currently going through the disciplinary process at your employer then this can be a potentially stressful and confusing time for you. You’ll therefore want to prepare for your disciplinary hearing in the best possible manner to give yourself the best possible chance of a good outcome. This article is therefore intended to outline 5 tips (although this is not exhaustive) on how you can give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding at a disciplinary hearing. However, if you need quick and efficient advice you are well advised to contact your Trade Union or a solicitor to obtain disciplinary hearing advice.
- Research the law on the allegations that have been made against you
- Research and prepare documentary evidence
- Research and prepare witness evidence
- Prepare questions for your disciplinary hearing
- Make sure you attend your disciplinary hearing
1. Research the law on the allegations that have been made against you
This is extremely important – as important as getting all the evidence you need together. If you’ve been charged with misconduct then research whether what you’ve been accused of constitutes misconduct. The same applies to gross misconduct, incapacity or illegality. Being “clued up” on the particular issues will allow you to present a stronger and more focused case – getting bogged down in tangents or irrelevant details will just waste time in your disciplinary hearing. Further, you should educate yourself on the mitigating factors relating to disciplinaries. Such mitigating factors include length of service, a good disciplinary record and provocation (among other things). You can read about the law relating to unfair dismissal here.
2. Research and prepare documentary evidence
Documentary evidence is, essentially, anything that has been recorded (and that you potentially have access to). This can include such diverse items as transcripts of telephone calls, recordings of meetings, videos, CCTV, emails, databases etc. The list is potentially infinite. You may or may not have access to such items. If you’re aware that a potentially relevant document exists and have access to it then great – put it in your bundle. However, if you don’t have access to the relevant document then you can either informally ask your employer for a copy (or any other person if they do). If your employer isn’t willing to provide you with the document then you could potentially make a freedom of information request (known as a subject access request). However, always ask nicely first. Once you have gathered all the documents together create a “bundle” of documents and a contents list of the documents so that they’re easy to refer to.
3. Research and prepare witness evidence
Witness evidence is as important, or even more so, than documentary evidence. Witness evidence is (as you’d imagine) evidence provided by witnesses to the act that occurred. For example, if you’ve been accused of theft in the workplace then you should try and get evidence from persons who can provide helpful, relevant evidence for you – such as, for example, that you were in a meeting with them at the time the alleged event occurred. However, never ask a witness to lie for you. This can not only damage your case if it’s found out; it can also potentially threaten that person’s job. If there are people willing to give witness evidence for you then ask them to write down what they witnessed and for them to sign the statement. You should provide these to your employer a day or two prior to the hearing so they can be read.
Read more: Unfair dismissal – a brief explanation[spacer size=”20″]
4. Prepare questions for your disciplinary hearing
This is not essential but can be extremely helpful. Write down questions that you have for the persons at the disciplinary hearing and, potentially, any witnesses that may be appearing. This will allow you to create a structure for the disciplinary hearing and will hopefully allow you to dominate the disciplinary hearing. The only problem with writing down a rigid structure of questions is that you may be thrown if something unexpected comes up. However, it’s better to have the list of questions then to not have it.
5. Make sure you attend your disciplinary hearing
To finish off, a simple but absolutely, quintessentially important point – attend the hearing on time. If you fail to attend the disciplinary hearing without giving adequate notice and reason then your employer will be entitled to conduct the disciplinary hearing in your absence.
If you think that you’re about to be dismissed from your job then contact an unfair dismissal solicitor.