This is a guide to holding formal disciplinary meetings. It is aimed at dealing with conduct issues (e.g. lateness, dishonesty, etc.) as opposed to issues of poor performance (i.e. where an employee is carrying out their duties, just not to a satisfactory standard).
Why Does It Matter?
Employees may be able to bring a claim against their employer (for example a claim in unfair dismissal) if they are dismissed without the employer following a “procedurally fair” disciplinary process. This may include where the dismissal is based on a number of warnings being given to the employee where no formal process was followed in issuing the warnings.
Formal disciplinary meetings are a key step in showing that the employer has followed a fair process.
Step 1: Give the Employee a Written Invitation to the Disciplinary Meeting
The letter should contain the following:
- The time, date and location of the meeting (ideally in between 24 to 48 hours’ time);
- Details of conduct issues to be discussed at the meeting (so the employee can prepare). Ideally this should state what happened and when. Provide specific examples if possible;
- A statement telling the employee they can bring a support person to the meeting;
- A warning that the outcome of the meeting could be a formal written warning or the termination of their employment; and
- A requirement that the employee keeps the content of the letter confidential
Step 2: Hold the Disciplinary Meeting
At the meeting:
- Remind the support person (if present) that they cannot talk on the employee’s behalf, but are there just to provide support to the employee;
- Read out each conduct issue from the letter and ask for the employee’s response;
- If termination of employment is being considered, ask the employee for their view as to why they should not be dismissed;
- Ask the employee if they have anything else to add;
- Take a written note of everything the employee says; and
- Conclude the meeting by telling the employee that you will consider everything they have said and will confirm the outcome in writing shortly
Do not make a decision on termination of employment or giving a warning in the meeting! Always take time to consider the most appropriate cause of action and whether you need to do more investigation. Always consider the personal circumstances of the employee (length of service, likelihood of being able to find alternative work, financial situation, etc) before taking a decision to dismiss.
Step 3: Confirm the Outcome of the Meeting in Writing
Possible outcomes of the disciplinary meeting include:
- To take no formal action;
- A formal written warning; or
- Termination of employment (generally only advisable where the employee has already been issued a number of written warnings or where the misconduct has been very serious).
The outcome should always be confirmed in writing.
We would always advise employers to contact employers to contact Employment Innovations before taking any decision to terminate an employee’s employment.
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
The information provided in this knowledge base article is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.