Appeal hearing checklist for disciplinary and grievance decisions
Ensure any appeal is held promptly and by a manager who is more senior to the disciplinary manager, or who has the authority to overturn the decision, and who was not involved in the original decision if practicable.
Read the decision letter and any other relevant documents and take a copy along to the meeting in case of the need to refer to it.
Check the rules and procedure.
Say the following points – ASK THE NOTETAKER TO RECORD THESE POINTS – easiest way is to give them a copy so they only have to record the answers and they can remind you if you miss one.
- Introduce those present and their Roles:yourself; the companion (check name if unknown); the note taker; anyone else present.
- If no companion say “I see you have chosen to be unaccompanied, are you happy to proceed on that basis”. If they say it was because their chosen companion was not available ask if they want to postpone as they have a right to do so for up to 5 working days for this reason.
- If they have a companion explain they can help present their case and adjourn to confer. Much more leeway can be given to the companion in an appeal meeting but they should not answer a direct question to the employee, particularly in a discipline appeal.
- Mobile phones – ask them to turn off their phone and place it on their table. This is to avoid covert recording. You may be more comfortable in allowing them to record the appeal meeting than at a disciplinary hearing.
- Notes – tell them they will be given a copy of management notes to check for accuracy and that they may take their own notes if they wish. Ask for a copy if they do, but you cannot insist on this.
- Explain the meeting is their opportunity to say why they believe the disciplinary or grievance decision is wrong or unfair. This could be on many grounds but the common ones are:
- There are procedural faults
- New evidence has come to light,
- The decision is too severe (disciplinary appeals) or is inconsistent with the decision in the case of other employees.
- The decision is perverse based on the evidence
- The disciplinary manager is biased
- A disciplinary appeal may either be a review of the disciplinary sanction or a re-hearing depending on the grounds of the appeal.
- Sometimes an employee raises a grievance following a disciplinary decision but complaints about the disciplinary procedure should be covered in the appeal. Any new head of complaint in a grievance should be the subject of a new grievance.
- If they have given details in their appeal letter explain that it their opportunity to expand on the reasons set out in their letter.
- Ask if they have any questions at this stage.
- Ask the employee why he or she is appealing. Often they are unclear as the possible grounds of appeal so you may need to outline them for them. Or, you may just need to listen to what they have to say and categorise the information when you consider it for your decision.
- If they have set out details in the letter, ask them would they like to take the points as set out in it. Or, if the letter does not provide details ask them to say why they disagree with the decision.
- Listen to answers without interrupting even if you think it is nonsense; it is their appeal.
- Only ask questions for clarification or to get their answer on an issue you are aware of, but do not argue or give away your view.
- If they get emotional, either distressed, angry etc keep a low, slow calm tone and explain this is not helping their case. If they won’t calm down take a 10 minute break and ask them to come back then.
- NEVER be tempted to argue or use sarcasm. Always treat the employee with respect and acknowledge their feelings. Sometimes you may need to check a point. If you do, and it is easy to do so, then adjourn the meeting and reconvene as soon as you have checked and continue the meeting. If the investigation is likely to take longer then, adjourn the meeting and reschedule in writing setting out the employee’s rights as in the original invitation.
- The start time, the timing of breaks and the end time of the meeting should be recorded in the notes.
Concluding the meeting
- Once the relevant issues have been thoroughly explored, summarise the facts as you understand them.
- Always ask if they have anything further to add.
- Always take a break to consider your decision (if it is only 10 minutes for simple things, longer if they had a lot to say).
- Say you will consider what they have told you and let them have your decision as soon as possible. Always try to do it within the timescales in your procedures.
- Tell them whether you will advise them of the outcome face to face, by email, or post. If it is face to face, confirm the decision in writing.
- Consider the information presented with an open mind. You may need to check facts but it is not necessary to reconvene the appeal hearing if they are factual.
- Do not be afraid to change a previous decision if it becomes apparent that it was not soundly based. Such action does not undermine authority but rather makes clear the independent nature of the appeal. If the decision is overturned consider whether training for managers needs to be improved, if rules need clarification, or are if there other implications to be considered.
- Advise the employee of the outcome of the appeal and the reasons for the decision and confirm it in writing. Make it clear, if this is the case, that this decision is final. (Letters)
- Advise the manager who took the original decision.