Call us on 0844 324 5840


Minimising Risk – Disciplinary Hearings

HR Solutions recently presented a free webinar providing guidance on how to conduct the perfect disciplinary investigation. You can watch recordings of all of our minimising risk webinars, on demand, at our HR Webinars Archive.

If during a disciplinary investigation meeting, the employee was unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for their behaviour and there is a case to answer to, then a disciplinary hearing is probably on the horizon. Some common disciplinary concerns may cover matters such as conduct in the workplace, timekeeping, absence, health and safety, and use of telephones, email and social media. In this article, we provide some HR guidance in relation to disciplinary hearings.

When is a disciplinary hearing the right course of action?

Since a great deal of resource goes into conducting a disciplinary hearing, it is important to make sure that this is the appropriate route to follow by considering the following factors:

  • Whether an informal warning would be more appropriate
    Depending on the circumstances, it can be more appropriate to simply have a documented discussion or to issue a letter of concern, rather than progress to a formal disciplinary hearing.
  • Is the matter a conduct issue?
    ‘Conduct’ is when someone has essentially chosen not to do the right thing. This is opposed to a ‘capability’ issue, where someone can’t do the right thing but not for want of trying. This is usually due to limitations such as skills or health.
  • The employee ought to have known better
    There should be rules or instructions that have not been followed. Alternatively, it might simply be a common-sense issue. For example, even though there may not be a social media policy, it should be obvious that posting something which is explicit and offensive about your employer online, where other colleagues or even clients are likely to see it, is not acceptable! It is important to note that allegations would need to be carefully worded if there is not a written rule that has been broken.
  • Consistency
    It should be the case that the type of conduct in question would always lead to formal action. There should not be any examples of anyone having done something similar who did not face disciplinary action as a consequence, (unless there is a good reason for treating the two situations differently). Any disciplinary policy should be adhered to (particularly if it is a contractual policy); if in doubt the Acas Code should guide employers without a policy.

How do you address the allegations to the employee?

  • On a disciplinary invite letter, the allegations should be clearly set out. They should state what the employee has potentially done wrong, when this is thought to have happened and include brief details of the circumstances and enclosed evidence.
  • The employee must be able to understand exactly what they are being accused of, so they may fully prepare for the meeting. For this reason, any evidence that will be attended to within the hearing must be enclosed.
  • The employee should be given reasonable time to prepare and make arrangements for their accompanying person, if they choose to have one. They should also be made aware of who will be chairing their hearing and if there is a possibility that the hearing may result in a warning or form of dismissal.
  • There must be no reason for the employee to doubt that the matters of concern are ‘alleged’, as any evidence that the outcome of the hearing is pre-determined may seriously undermine the meeting and may even result in the outcome being procedurally unfair.
  • Disciplinary action can only be taken in respect of allegations that were set out in the invite letter, and only in respect of those which are found to be true. For this reason, allegations must be carefully worded, and there should be an allegation for each matter of concern.
  • When there has been misconduct which is serious enough to warrant a disciplinary hearing, the circumstances may warrant more than one allegation. It is important to distinguish between these and to deal with each allegation in turn. By doing so, if one of the allegations fall down, you may still be able to take some form of action based on the other.

Further HR Guidance




Got questions? Looking for advice?


Got questions? Looking for advice?


Explore our comprehensive library of related resources to gain valuable insights, expert tips, and helpful tools for optimising your HR practices.

Managing grievances and disciplinary cases (including investigations)
Online Training
21 March 2024
Managing difficult conversations
Online Training
21 March 2024
TUPE Transfers
Legal Updates
20 June 2024


Receive all the latest industry insights, expert tips and exciting updates from HR Solutions, straight to your inbox.

Strategic HR thinking whitepaper

Our latest HR whitepaper offers an in-depth analysis and strategic framework aimed at transforming Human Resources into a pivotal element of business success in the rapidly evolving corporate environment of 2024.


Register your details below and we will contact you regarding how HR Solutions can support your organisation.


We’re here to assist you with any questions or enquiries you might have. Simply fill out the form below, and our dedicated team will get back to you.

Request your free trial

Register your details below and we will contact you about your 30 day free trial of the HR Knowledge Base.


Register your details below and we will contact you about access to the HR Knowledge Base.  As part of your approved industry membership organisation you can get access to the HR Knowledge Base, created by Business HR Solutions, which is the go-to resource for thousands of business owners and managers across the UK.


We’re here to assist you with any questions or enquiries you might have. Simply fill out the form below, and our dedicated team will get back to you.


Please complete the form and one of our team will call you back to discuss your query/booking.


Our latest 2023/24 SME Business Survey sheds light on the intricate dynamics shaping the SME sector and unveils critical insights that can guide businesses toward sustainable success.


HR Solutions are here to help. We offer a standard hourly rate package for ad hoc HR advice which means you can pay for what you need, whenever you need it, and then quickly get advice. Our highly experienced advisors are on hand to provide you with practical employment advice to help you manage your workforce.  You can purchase HR Advice Line time now, and the time purchased will be valid for 12 months.