So you’ve been invited to a disciplinary hearing. Well, required to attend more like. If you don’t turn up it will be an assumption of guilt, so take up the invitation and do a little bit of planning.
Yes, plan. There is no point rocking up to a disciplinary hearing without having considered what – exactly – you are going to say to the allegations put to you. You will have these allegations in the letter “inviting” you to attend the hearing. If the letter doesn’t state what the allegations are, then ask. Your employer is required to tell you what these are at least 24 hours before the hearing takes place. Point them to the ACAS Code of Practice http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/9/5/CP01_1.pdf if they feign surprise at the audacity of you even asking. And while you’re at it, take a look at it yourself. It’s aimed at employers, but is written in plain, straightforward English and you may as well know what they can and can’t do as well.
You also have the right to be accompanied by a workplace colleague or a trade union representative. Don’t bother joining a trade union if you are not already a member. You don’t have the time, and anyway, if you do your homework you won’t need a union representative. Don’t bother taking a workplace colleague either, unless it is someone you can really trust. Their role is really one of support. They can’t for instance, answer questions on your behalf. Take someone you don’t trust and you may find they have been blabbing to colleagues and spreading the news of your bad behaviour (assuming you have been bad, of course). That’s the last thing you need.
Start putting together any documentation that will help you state your case. If, for instance, you are being invited to a disciplinary hearing because of poor performance, find examples of recent work you have done well and, even better, emails from your manager thanking you for work done.
Think about what you will say. If you are accused of getting drunk at a company event and (drunken stupor aside) you are fully aware you did, there is no point pretending you didn’t. Being apologetic and expressing your embarassment is best – assuming, of course, you genuinely feel apologetic and embarassed. Even if you are not, you may as well be. Your job is at stake, remember, and if you want to keep it, you need to play the game.
Employees in the sorry situation of having to attend a disciplinary hearing often ask whether they should seek legal advice. Whether you should do so is entirely up to you. A lawyer may give you some guidance as to whether or not you will be fired, but why start racking up legal fees so early on in the game? It may be wiser to save those pounds in case you are fired and need not only sound legal advice, but some hard earned cash in your pocket as well.
And if you’re not fired? Well, you can take yourself off on a little holiday to recover from the trauma of a disciplinary hearing instead. You’ll need it.