Preparing for a disciplinary hearing – common pitfalls

If you’ve been invited to a disciplinary hearing then you will want to prepare as thoroughly as you can for the hearing – after all, a negative outcome from the disciplinary hearing can have serious adverse effects on your career prospects. You could, in the worst case scenario, end up losing your job. This post therefore aims to provide employees with details of how to avoid common pitfalls in the disciplinary process and to represent yourself in the best way possible at your disciplinary hearing. Common pitfalls (as we’ll see below) include:

  1. Being untruthful
  2. Being aggressive at the disciplinary hearing
  3. Not being aware of the law
  4. Not preparing sufficient documentary evidence
  5. Not preparing sufficient witness evidence for the disciplinary hearing
  6. Not attending the disciplinary hearing

Being untruthful

This is the worst thing to do in your disciplinary hearing – if you lie about what happened (and that’s subsequently discovered) then you’ve pretty much sunk yourself. Dishonesty is a potential ground of gross misconduct and your employer could dismiss you on that basis without notice alone. Even if you’re not immediately found out it’s extremely difficult to create a credible framework of lies.

Being aggressive at the disciplinary hearing

This is also not recommended. You should remain patient and courteous throughout the process; after all, the people who will be taking your disciplinary hearing will be the ones who will in all probability be deciding the outcome of the process. Getting angry, flustered or frustrated with them will certainly not help your case.

Not being aware of the law

This is a less critical factor (that’s what lawyers are for, after all) but it’s highly recommended that you do one (or both) of two things: consult a legally qualified person (such as a Trade Union official or a employment law solicitor) or research the law yourself. You can research the law on unfair dismissal here and the law on constructive dismissal here.

Not preparing sufficient documentary evidence

Documentary evidence is often crucial at a disciplinary hearing in determining the outcome. Documentary evidence includes, in effect, anything that can and has been recorded. This can extend from emails to letters, transcripts of telephone conversations to databases. You should do a thorough search of any documents that you have possession of and determine whether they’re relevant to the disciplinary hearing. You can ask your employer to provide copies of documents that you don’t have possession of (if you believe that your employer does have possession of such).

Not preparing sufficient witness evidence for the disciplinary hearing

As with documentary evidence, this can be crucial. You should talk with colleague (and any other third party) who witnessed anything that could be relevant to the allegations made against you. If that person did experience a relevant fact then ask if they’re willing to provide a witness statement for you.

Not attending the disciplinary hearing

This seems absolutely obvious. However, employees often don’t attend disciplinary hearings because they’ve either mistaken the date, are too ill to attend or believe that the outcome of the disciplinary hearing is a foregone conclusion. This is a mistake – your employer can decide to conduct the hearing in your absence. This is (again, obviously) a bad thing.

If you’re unsuccessful at your disciplinary hearing then please feel free to use our disciplinary appeal letter.

Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. They also use specialist unfair dismissal solicitors

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