An HR’s Guide to Managing Disciplinary Hearings
Any business owner will tell you that employees are one of their most important assets.
Without the people who run every department, the company will for sure find it difficult to stand up on its feet.
And this is why it’s often very hard when the employees you trust misbehave enough to warrant disciplinary action.
It’s uncomfortable, to say the least, but there’s a lot at stake, not just feelings.
Even if there is a ton of evidence against an employee, if due process is not followed, the employer runs the danger of facing an unfair dismissal action.
So, in the unfortunate event that you have to hold one, how should you and your HR team manage disciplinary meetings?
We covered it all in this post.
What is a disciplinary meeting?
If you ever need to handle unacceptable behavior at work, your company should follow a more extensive disciplinary process, including a disciplinary hearing.
In this context, “unacceptable behavior” could refer to either an employee’s behavior at work or their competence in their role.
The purpose of disciplinary hearings is not to check off boxes. Instead, they play a crucial role in the disciplinary process by ensuring justice and transparency. This is done to decide whether or not disciplinary action against an employee is necessary.
Hearings are conducted to determine the case’s facts, not to confront the employee. Instead, they allow both parties to present their arguments, trade information and pose thoughtful questions.
Remember that hearings, like all other aspects of a disciplinary process, are intended to assist organizations in functioning successfully and following their mission and core values.
Additionally, they reaffirm performance requirements and inform management and staff that violations of workplace regulations will be dealt with systematically and lawfully. This even applies to team members being fired when a situation calls for it.
When should you arrange a disciplinary hearing?
A disciplinary hearing should be scheduled if an employer decides there is a disciplinary case for an employee to answer after conducting an inquiry.
The first phase of preparing for the disciplinary hearing is to establish a date and time to hold the disciplinary hearing and find a suitable, private place.
The hearing date should be appropriate for your disciplinary procedure and allow both you and the employee enough time to prepare. Ensure you give yourself enough time to prepare if the disciplinary policy doesn’t specify how many days of notice must be provided.
Normally, five working days’ notice for a disciplinary hearing is adequate.
Nevertheless, this can vary depending on how complicated the investigation was and how much information you can evaluate.
Also, it would help if you planned for a notetaker to assist you at the disciplinary hearing. It should ideally be a different manager or a representative from your HR team.
It is critical that the employee is allowed to address the allegations and that a fair procedure is followed in setting up and carrying out the disciplinary hearing.
Preparing for a disciplinary hearing
The effective, fact-based, and seamless management of a disciplinary hearing should be one of HR’s primary objectives. All of these require careful planning in advance.
The primary tasks HR should concentrate on before a hearing are listed on this checklist:
- Collect all relevant papers, such as witness statements, disciplinary records, and other employee records that may be relevant to the case.
- If necessary, make any requested paperwork available to the employee. During the hearing, accused employees may also present evidence and summon witnesses.
- Set up a quiet space for the hearing where there won’t be any interruptions. If an employee is unable to attend the hearing as scheduled, take into account alternative arrangements.
- Arrange a notetaker for the hearing. Ideally, this would be a different employee unrelated to the case. Choose the HR representative who will go.
- You can also get a manager who is not directly involved with the accused employee to act as the Chair during the hearing.
- Be prepared to answer any justifications or defenses that the employee may raise.
- Get witnesses to the conference organized. Written statements may be submitted by those unable or unwilling to attend.
- Make a schedule of the hearing’s activities to be followed.
HR should explain the entire procedure and what to anticipate to an accused employee at the outset of a disciplinary hearing.
The employee should not be shocked when asked questions as part of the inquiry or when called to attend a disciplinary hearing. Instead, the investigation should be completed as soon as possible, and a subsequent hearing should be scheduled.
How do you guarantee a fair disciplinary hearing?
Discipline hearings may become tense and emotional despite careful planning. It’s acceptable to have some of this. Nonetheless, the Chair could adjourn the hearing if the employee cannot maintain composure or reason.
The employer must provide the employee enough time to ask questions and present evidence at the hearing. Even if there is strong evidence against this person, they must be allowed a voice.
Even if the employee or companion baits the employer into a fight, the employer should avoid it. This step of the process is not intended to “win” the case or persuade the employee that their conduct was improper.
The better HR can manage the hearing process, the more likely all parties will see a hearing as fair and in the company’s best interest.
Handling and participating in a disciplinary hearing can be stressful, especially for the employee. It requires your HR team to investigate, gather proof from all parties involved, prepare the actual hearing, and come up with a fair recommendation for everyone.
In cases like this, utilizing an HR solution like Hezum gives your HR employees the time to focus on such an ordeal.
But the thing is, Hezum can help outside disciplinary hearings.
By streamlining the usual administrative tasks conducted by the department, your HR employees are free to focus on improving employee experiences and ensuring the workplace is productive, efficient, and safe for all.