Dealing with no shows to disciplinary meetings
Imagine the situation.
You have invited an employee to a disciplinary meeting. You have informed them of the date, time and place of the meeting and given them sufficient information about the alleged misconduct and possible consequences.
You have also given them copies of the evidence that will be discussed in the meeting and informed them of their right to be accompanied by a fellow colleague or a trade union representative.
You have done everything right, but for some reason, the employee doesn’t turn up to the meeting.
They may be sick, uncomfortable with the location, or simply delaying the process.
What should employers do?
The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures clearly sets out that “employers and employees (and their companions) should make every effort to attend the meeting”. It goes on to say that “where an employee is persistently unable or unwilling to attend a disciplinary meeting without good cause the employer should make a decision on the evidence available”.
Therefore, if an employee fails to turn up to a disciplinary or grievance meeting, you should, in the first instance, try to rearrange the meeting for another time.
If they fail to attend for a second time, you should delve into the reasons why; for example, they may be too sick to attend. If this is the case, you should reschedule the meeting for when they are feeling better or, if it is a long-term absence, consider seeking medical evidence to ascertain when they would be well enough to attend the meeting or explore what adjustments could be made to help them attend.
You can also talk to the employee to work out appropriate dates and times and attempt to get confirmation from them that they will attend the rescheduled meeting. It’s worth reminding them that if they do not attend, a decision may need to be made in their absence.
The number of times you will need to rearrange the meeting will depend on the reasons for non-attendance and the circumstances of the case. For example, when deciding what is reasonable, you could consider the employee’s previous disciplinary record, their length of service, and how serious the disciplinary issue is.
If the employee repeatedly fails to attend the meeting without good reason, you should give them the opportunity to make written representations, and you may need to make a decision based on the evidence available to you. Again, making the employee aware of this may encourage them to attend.
Once you have made a decision and informed the employee, you should give them the chance to appeal the decision.
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Don't let disciplinary issues escalate into costly disputes
When dealing with disciplinary issues, it’s always best to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
For professional support through any disciplinary matter, including step-by-step advice, policy development and expert training, contact WorkNest today. As experts in employment law and HR, we can help you to handle difficult situations confidently, ensure compliance with the law, and protect your business from potential risks.
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