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Handling Appeals

This employment guide sets out how you should respond when an employee appeals against a decision following a disciplinary hearing.

Introduction

Whenever you have found it necessary to issue some form of disciplinary sanction against one of your employees then he or she must be provided with an opportunity to appeal against your decision. This is particularly important if you decided to terminate an employee’s contract of employment following a disciplinary hearing.

The appeal

The disciplinary outcome letter that you gave the employee at the end of the disciplinary hearing (see our guide to disciplinary hearings) should have set out the timescales for submitting an appeal and who any request to appeal should be made to.

If the employee wishes to appeal he or she should set out the reasons in writing to be received, normally, within five working days following receipt of the disciplinary outcome letter. It can be longer if your internal policy provides for a longer period.

If you receive a request for an appeal then you should:

  • Write to the employee confirming who will chair the appeal hearing and the date, time and venue for the meeting.
  • Remind the employee of his or her right to be accompanied at the hearing.
  • Confirm the name of any note-taker who may attend.

Chairing an appeal hearing

We recommend that you arrange for someone who has not been involved in the disciplinary process to chair the appeal hearing. Where possible, it should be someone more senior than the chair of the original disciplinary hearing.

The appeal hearing can either be a review of the original disciplinary hearing outcome or be a full rehearing of the disciplinary issues. We recommend that you seek professional and expert advice from HR:4UK as to what form the appeal hearing should take.

The chair of the appeal hearing should:

  • Prior to the meeting, fully review all the evidence, notes and statements presented at the disciplinary hearing, including minutes of the meeting.
  • Outline the key points arising out of the initial disciplinary hearing.
  • Confirm the reasons given for any disciplinary sanction.
  • Confirm the employee’s grounds of appeal.
  • Provide an opportunity for the employee to make further representations or mitigation supporting their submitted grounds for appeal.

Once the proceedings of the appeal hearing have finished, the chair should adjourn the meeting to consider matters raised and discussed during the hearing and to reach a final decision concerning the appeal.

As the chair has a number of options available when considering the outcome of an appeal hearing, we recommend that he or she should seek professional and expert advice from HR:4UK.

Getting it right

If an employee is unhappy with the outcome of an appeal he or she might take the matter to an employment tribunal, alleging unfairness. The penalties available to tribunals are substantial (unlimited in some cases) so it is important that the appeal process is handled correctly.

HR:4UK can advise you and/or the chair of the appeal hearing about the available options and which would be the most appropriate, taking into account the individual circumstances of the case.

For further help and advice, speak to one of our advisors by calling 01455 444222 or complete our online enquiry click here and an advisor will contact you shortly.