What if you disagree with your disciplinary?

Find out what your options are after a disciplinary hearing.

No matter how well you prepare for your disciplinary hearing, there’s a chance your employer will still take disciplinary action against you.

This may include:
  • Dismissal
  • Suspension or demotion
  • Formal warning

Your employer’s decision should be fair, proportionate, and based on evidence heard during your disciplinary.
But that doesn’t mean you have to accept the outcome of a disciplinary.

Appealing a disciplinary decision

You have a legal right to appeal a disciplinary if you believe:
  • The disciplinary process was mishandled
  • The action taken was unfair or too harsh
  • You have further evidence or documents to support your case

After your disciplinary hearing, your employer should write to you informing you of the disciplinary action. In this letter or email, they should let you know you can appeal the decision.

This may be with your HR department or manager – check your company’s handbook for details on the process.

Lodge your appeal in writing within 5 days of the outcome. This ‘countdown’ starts once you receive the outcome of your hearing in writing. Time is of the essence, and any delay may reflect poorly on the case.

In your appeal, explain why you believe the employer’s action is wrong and how you’d like to proceed. For example, you may want them to review any new evidence you have or re-sit the disciplinary hearing.

What to expect during your appeal

Once you’ve made your appeal, expect a similar process as your disciplinary hearing.
Your employer will write to you confirming the date, time, and location, while giving you enough time (usually 3 to 5 days) to prepare.

The meeting should be carried out by a member of staff not involved in the original hearing or pre-disciplinary investigation. Wherever possible, a more senior employer should conduct the meeting. This should lead to an impartial and unbiased appeal. For the same reasons, any re-investigation of the allegations should also be conducted by a different staff member.

During the appeal, you’ll again hear the allegations against you. You should restate your defence, offer any extra evidence you have, and generally ensure the disciplinary process follows the ACAS Code of Practice.
Both you and your employer may ask questions that help resolve the case.

As with your original hearing, you can bring along a companion or employee representative. However, without your employer’s consent – which is highly unlikely – you can’t bring legal representation.

Make sure you keep all documents and communications relating to the allegations against you. You may need them if you later seek legal advice.

What to do if your appeal fails

If your appeal still fails, it may be time to find a solicitor who can help. They will be able to advise on your next steps.
  • Early conciliation

Early conciliation sees you discuss the matter with your employer and try to find a solution agreeable to both parties. A solicitor can represent you, communicating with your employer and acting as a mediator.

If your case is eligible for an employment tribunal, it’s expected that you’ve tried early conciliation. Not taking this step could seriously harm your claim and see you lose out on pay.

During conciliation, your solicitor can negotiate your return to work or the termination of your contract plus any pay and benefits due.

At the end of this process, which can take up to 6 weeks, you and your employer receive the legally binding COT3 agreement should you reached a solution.

If no agreement was reached, you’ll get a certificate that can then be used when bringing the case to an employment tribunal.
  • Employment tribunal

Before taking the case to a tribunal, it’s a good idea to speak to an employment solicitor. This is now a legal matter, and you’ll want to make sure you get it right first time.

Employment tribunals are used when you’ve been treated unlawfully. For example, you’ve been unfairly dismissed, faced workplace discrimination, or your employer has illegally docked your pay. Losing your job over health and safety matters or whistleblowing is also a reason to take a case to tribunal.

Not all workers can make a claim with an employment tribunal, though. A solicitor will be able to advise.
The first step is to notify ACAS that you intend to put in a claim (and if you haven’t already done so, been? offered the option of early conciliation).

Once notified, you and your solicitor can begin to make your claim.

Your employer will also be told of the hearing at least 14 days before it takes place.
  • Alternative options

A solicitor may advise that your case isn’t appropriate for an employment tribunal. However, you may still have some recourse. They may even believe you can take your case to court.

Speak to an employment solicitor

Whether you’re looking to settle a disciplinary issue or take your employer into a tribunal, an employment solicitor is best placed to give you the expert advice you need and help you prepare your case.

You won’t need one during the early stages of a disciplinary. But it can be wise to get them involved as soon as your employer takes any disputed disciplinary action.

Use The Law Superstore’s quick quote form to find an employment solicitor with the right experience at the right price.

Steve Clark

Steve creates helpful guides for The Law Superstore. He enjoys digging deep into new areas of the law, supporting partners, and translating legalese and jargon into plain English everyone can understand.

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