Sometimes, employees will fail to meet your basic work needs – causing your business loss and disruption.
You should use a disciplinary procedure to highlight poor performance or misconduct. But remember, your staff can appeal your decisions through a disciplinary appeal process.
Even if you follow the disciplinary rules, you must address their appeals once they’re raised. Otherwise, you could face unfair treatment claims and a costly tribunal.
Read this guide on dealing with disciplinary appeal processes. And how to manage appeals raised by your employees.
What is a disciplinary appeal?
Appeals allow employees to disagree with formal decisions made, or action taken against them.
It gives employees a chance to show why they think the disciplinary was wrongful or unfair. The appeal hearing will investigate the claims and check whether the right action was taken.
Employees can appeal any disciplinary and grievance decision. You could face costly legal fees and court hearings if you don’t allow your staff the right to appeal.
Why would an employee raise an appeal?
There many reasons for appealing a disciplinary hearing. An employee can choose to raise an appeal because:
- Of how you took disciplinary action against them. (Like, failing to follow your own conduct policy).
- Of fairness for a disciplinary process. (Like, denying them information on hearing processes).
- The decision you took lacked sufficient evidence to support it.
- The decision you made was too harsh, wrongful, or unfair.
How long do you have to appeal a disciplinary?
Acas recommend a disciplinary appeal time limit of five days. Employees should start the appeal process within that time, or they forfeit the right to do so.
You must inform staff of this time limit when taking disciplinary action.
Who carries out the disciplinary appeal process?
The person who hears the appeal procedure and conducts the investigation should:
- Not be involved in the case.
- Be senior to those involved in the case.
This might be difficult to follow for small businesses, but you should always aim to follow a fair process. It might be a good idea to bring in an external suitable person to conduct the appeal hearing.
What happens at a disciplinary appeal hearing?
It’s good practice to provide employees with all relevant information on the disciplinary appeal process. They should know how to appeal and what’s needed for a fair disciplinary hearing appeal process.
You should have an employee appeal process and policy which highlights dealing with disciplinary and grievance issues.
For any disagreements, employees should raise their appeal in writing, through an appeal letter. The disciplinary appeal letter should include their reasons against your decision.
Before the disciplinary appeal meeting
Once an appeal has been raised, you or the appointed person should prepare to carry out the hearing.
You can send employees all relevant information via a disciplinary appeal meeting letter. The meeting letter should include:
- An outline of the case.
- Who will be attending.
- The date, time, and location of the hearing.
During the disciplinary appeal meeting
Employees have a legal right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance appeal hearings. They can bring a neutral person for support. Like a work colleague, or a trade union representative. You can also allow companions, like legal representatives or a marital partner—but there’s no requirement to do so.
You should follow a specific disciplinary appeal hearing format. The appointed person should:
- Introduce everyone.
- Outline the purpose of the meeting, how it’ll be conducted, and who’ll have pass final decisions.
- Ask the employee for their reasons for appealing.
- Consider all reasons and conclude the hearing.
They’ll determine whether the original decision was fairly conducted. Or whether a new investigation is needed before making a final decision.
A new investigation can include:
- Finding new evidence.
- Re-evaluating evidence.
- Revisiting witness accounts.
- Speaking to new witnesses.
If you need to action additional investigations steps, you should inform the employee.
And if you find further evidence against them, make sure it doesn’t add to the original disciplinary outcome. Unless your disciplinary policy allows this, you should process this separately through a new investigation.
After the disciplinary appeal meeting
Once reached, your appeal outcomes should be provided to the employee as soon as possible.
Some disciplinary appeal outcomes can include having to reinstate their job; or paying them compensation for lost income.
Once a disciplinary appeal outcome is discussed and reached, you should present it via written means. It should include the reasons for your decision, and if they are final.
What if employees still disagree with the hearing outcome?
Employees might not get the result they want. If they disagree with the outcome, they could raise their case to the Employment Tribunal for re-evaluation.
Expert support on the disciplinary process with Peninsula
Even if you follow the correct disciplinary procedure, workers can still disagree with your methods.
You must follow the right procedures for appeals, even if your staff choose to appeal your decision.
Or else, you could face ongoing business disruption, unfair treatment claims and a costly tribunal hearing.
Get expert HR help from Peninsula. We can help you introduce disciplinary appeal procedures for your business. Our clients get access to 24/7 HR advice with our specialists, ensuring bespoke legal guidance.
And if you’re not yet a client, you can still enjoy a free advice call from one of our business experts. Simply call us on 0800 029 4378.