After the investigatory stage you should be told in writing whether a disciplinary hearing has been arranged.
The letter should outline:
- the issues and possible penalties,
- where and when the hearing will take place,
- the names of any witnesses, and
- your right to be accompanied
You are also entitled to all of the information and documents relating to the case, in advance of the hearing.
You should make every effort to attend the original hearing date. If you have a legitimate reason why you cannot attend, you can request a postponement. A legitimate reason might be that you have not been given enough notice to meet with your representative and prepare your case, or your representative is unavailable on the proposed date. The alternative date must be reasonable and within five working days of the original hearing date (beginning the day after). Working days for this purpose exclude Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.
If you are off sick and cannot attend the first hearing obtain a medical certificate or support from occupational health, where possible.
At the hearing
The hearing panel usually consists of a chairperson (senior manager), a human resource adviser and possibly a note taker. In the NHS the investigating officer may present the findings to the panel. The location should be private with no interruptions.
The hearing itself will follow this basic structure:
- The chairperson should introduce those present and explain the purpose of the hearing.
- Management will outline their case then listen to your defence. You can refute any allegations or statements, ask questions, present evidence and question witnesses.
- Your representative is entitled to address the hearing panel and ask questions on your behalf. A union representative (or chosen companion) can address the hearing, challenge any inaccuracies or procedural errors, present mitigating circumstances and sum up your case. You can confer with them during the interview (somewhere private) and they can address the hearing panel, but not answer on your behalf. There is generally no legal right to be accompanied by a solicitor. Your representative is allowed to confer with you before and after the hearing.
- You should also be given the opportunity to call relevant witnesses, ask questions and challenge or raise points about any information provided by witnesses. If you intend to question any witness or if you refute the witness statements you should notify management beforehand.
- The panel will consider the evidence presented, the facts, any mitigating or contributory factors and whether a disciplinary penalty is justified.
After the hearing
You should be informed in writing of the hearing outcome and the grounds for the decision. You should be provided with the opportunity to agree the notes or minutes of the hearing before they are finalised.