Last month, Cherry Professional had the pleasure of hosting an event in conjunction with Derby based Employment Law Firm, Precept. The topic – How to manage a disciplinary process. The event was a huge success enjoyed by HR professionals and Line Managers and Precept provided fantastic content – including great role play on what good and bad look like. It was an informative, invaluable and insightful event, and we certainly learned a lot.

Precept looked at the objectives of investigations and various disciplinary processes, and the importance of having proper processes in place to manage issues in the workplace. We’re keen to share our findings with our candidates, clients and readers.

The Stages of Workplace Investigations and Disciplinaries

There are several steps that go into successful investigations and disciplinaries at work, centring on investigating what happened, and then using this information to decide what action to take. It’s much easier to achieve a thorough and fair disciplinary with accurate, up-to-date and detailed information about the situation. This also helps to avoid employment tribunal claims.

  • Investigation – As we learned at the event, investigations should be thought about in a similar way to building a house. You need strong foundations in order for it to work, and this starts with the person conducting the investigation. Think about who will handle the investigation, and train managers on how to approach this. It’s often better for a manager to conduct workplace investigations, as they are on the ground and seeing everything for themselves. Provide the decision maker with enough information to understand the issue in question, including relevant documents, complaints, witness statements and any reports of findings. Remember, investigating officers are not there to make a decision, they can only give their recommendations.
  • Preparation – Some people overlook the importance of the preparation stage, such as finding somewhere private and confidential to hold the meeting. You should allow at least three to five days from the invitation letter being given to the employee, and you need to consider if any adjustments are needed. You might choose to have one person to hold the meeting, or you might opt for a panel. It’s also a good idea to organise a notetaker or a way to record the meeting, for all parties to refer back to if needed. Before the disciplinary, create a meeting plan, explain the purpose of the meeting and introduce everyone present.
  • Hearing – At the hearing, confirm if the employee has received their letter and they understand what the allegations are. Check they understand the situation, are okay, and allow time if they need to take a break. Once the employee has explained the situation and provided their insights, give them a chance to add anything extra. They might have mitigating factors that they want you to take into account, or they might have questions to ask you. Similarly, take the time to ask any further questions that you have. Often, the questions you ask are more important than the answers you get.

You are more likely to have an effective workplace disciplinary if the investigation, preparation and hearing process is followed correctly. If a resolution is not found, or the employee is unsatisfied with the outcome, an appeal might be necessary. In an employment tribunal appeal, you need to follow the Acas process. There’s lots of information on the Acas process online, and it’s there to guide you through the appeal process. Obviously, we are HR recruiters and not the Employment Law specialists – therefore should you require further information we can put you in touch with the experts.

We had an informative morning at the HR event and look forward to the next one. If you are interested in joining our next event, please get in touch.