Your employer could start formal disciplinary action against you if they have concerns about your work, conduct or absence.
Before taking formal disciplinary action or dismissing you, your employer may try to raise the matter informally with you. However, they can go straight to their formal disciplinary or dismissal procedures.
How do disciplinary procedures work?
Your employer should put their disciplinary procedure in writing, and make it easily available to all staff.
It should say what performance and behaviour might lead to disciplinary action and what action your employer might take.
It should also include the name of someone you can speak to if you don’t agree with your employer’s disciplinary decision.
Your employer’s disciplinary procedure should include the following steps:
- A letter setting out the issue.
- A meeting to discuss the issue.
- A disciplinary decision.
- A chance to appeal this decision.
Your employer’s disciplinary procedures should follow the ACAS code of practice.
Your employer doesn’t have to follow the ACAS code, however, if they don’t and you win an employment tribunal against them, you could get a larger compensation payment by up to 25%.
Your employer shouldn’t take any disciplinary action before meeting with you first and discussing the problem.
This disciplinary meeting (normally called a ‘hearing’) should be at a reasonable time and place.
At the hearing your employer should explain the complaint against you, go through the evidence and give you a chance to tell your side of the story.
If you raise a significant new fact or issue at the hearing your employer might stop it and look into the issue. They should then rearrange the hearing at a later date.
Can I take someone with me to a disciplinary hearing?
You have the right to take someone with you to a disciplinary hearing, but you must tell your employer about this first.
Your companion can be either:
- a work colleague
- a trade union representative
- a trade union official
If a colleague can’t go with you and you’re not in a union you can ask to bring a family member, friend or a legal representative. However, your employer doesn’t have to agree to this unless your employment contract says they must.
What can my companion do to help me at the hearing?
Your companion can present and/or sum up your case and say things to support your case and speak to you during the hearing.
Your companion can’t answer questions on your behalf.
Your companion can’t be disciplined for supporting you.
After the hearing your employer should write to you as soon as possible, saying what action they’re going to take, and telling you about your right to appeal.
The decision might be:
- no action
- written warning
- final warning
It might also be anything else that could resolve the problem, e.g. an agreement to mediate with a co-worker you’ve had personal problems with.
You have a right of appeal against the disciplinary action and the appeal should be heard by someone impartial and more senior than the person who heard the disciplinary hearing.