Here are some general pointers for handling a disciplinary investigation or grievance hearing:

UK employment law says that an employer should not suspend as a knee-jerk reaction in a disciplinary case. It should only suspend in order to protect people or property or to avoid evidence or witnesses being interfered with, or it could lead to an accusation of having decided the outcome in advance. When an employer suspends, it should make it clear that this is not an indication that the outcome of the has been pre-determined.

Employers should appoint a manager to do the grievance hearing or disciplinary investigation with training or experience or have them assisted by a HR person.

Disciplinary and grievance hearings 1Employees should ensure they are accompanied by someone who can take a good note. A fast typist is not what you want, so much as someone with the ability to listen, understand and write the gist at the same time. Remember, a good note is likely to help at a later Employment Tribunal hearing. Also, it will be disclosable before any employment tribunal hearing and it’s good practice to let the employee have a copy anyway.

The employee should be sent in advance the documents to be relied on at the grievance or disciplinary hearing and it is good practice for the employee to be reminded of the right to be accompanied.

The employer should offer any reasonable adjustments for a disability and make adjustments also for people under stress.

The hearing should take place promptly as soon as the complaint is afoot.

Employers should be prepared to adjourn if unexpected evidence or arguments come to light that need to be looked into.

If an employee feels the company is exposed or at fault in some way, the emloyer can expect that in an Employment Tribunal hearing, written discussions about the matter will become disclosable.

Employers often prefer to discuss thing internally over the phone, with no note being taken. It is in both side’s interest that a note be taken of anything said that could show what they were thinking at the time and that could support their case, which means using email is often preferable.

Employers should remember that other colleagues may want to be consulted. There may be implications for PR, health and safety, etc. They can take soundings from HR. But the decision must only be that of the decision-maker.

In a disciplinary hearing, the employee is allowed to call witnesses but they do not have to attend.

We are finding that many employees make secret recordings with their mobile phones; current UK employment law allows employees to rely on these recordings as long as they are not recordings of deliberations

An employer should always offer an appeal and employees should always follow the process through to the end because if there is an employment tribunal hearing about the case, each side risks losing out financially if the Acas Code of Practice on handling disciplinaries and grievances has not been complied with.