Many disciplinary or grievance hearings do not extend to the level of an appeal. However, if an employee appeals, do you know how to conduct an appeal hearing? Who should chair the meeting? The process that should be followed? What the do’s and don’ts are?
An appeal is the final chance for an employee to review a disciplinary or grievance decision with their employer. Appeals form part of the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance which sets out important guidance for employers when conducting disciplinary or grievance hearings. Employers who do not offer a right of appeal could have that counted against them if the case goes to an employment tribunal.
On what grounds do employees appeal a disciplinary or grievance outcome?
Many employees will appeal in the hope that a decision will be overturned but they need to have suitable grounds for appealing that decision. Perhaps the disciplinary outcome is too severe or the process was unfair or they feel a grievance outcome was the wrong outcome.
Maybe the person has been dismissed for an unfair reason or the employee may have new evidence to present at an appeal hearing.
Who can chair an appeal hearing?
Appeal hearings should ideally be carried out by a person not previously involved in the process and should ideally be more senior than the person who heard the grievance or disciplinary matter earlier. This can be difficult in small organisations but you should aim to make the process as fair as possible.
It can be helpful to use an HR Consultant to hear an appeal. I can help if you don’t have a suitable senior manager to conduct a hearing, offering neutrality and objectivity as well as experience.
Consider whether the original hearing was fair
The person chairing the appeal will decide if the procedure was followed in a fair way and that the outcome was fair in the circumstances. In some cases, the appeal can “put right” failings in the preceding process and reduce risk to the employer of a claim to the employment tribunal.
The chairperson conducting the appeal hearing may carry out a further investigation if they feel it is required. They may feel a different outcome is appropriate and they will deal with communicating that to the employee.
The importance of a fair process
It is important to take advice on your process to avoid pitfalls. Having an objective eye look over the case for you can take some of the emotion out of the situation as this can sometimes be an issue. It is essential to follow your procedure and it can sometimes be helpful to have a script to follow. I can guide you through the process.
Employees should be given the right to be accompanied at an appeal hearing. The companion can be a colleague or an accredited union representative. If the employee is disabled or vulnerable you may need to make a reasonable adjustment when it comes to the companion – allowing a support worker to support them in the hearing, for example.
Getting the process right during an appeal hearing or any disciplinary or grievance hearing is very important as slip-ups in the procedure could land you in hot water if the matter escalates to the employment tribunal.
Contact Liz Jewer on 07803 007591 if you need guidance on conducting an appeal hearing or would like us to conduct an appeal hearing.