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Topic: Disciplinary, capability and dismissal

letter offering options for a disciplinary hearing
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Letter offering options for a disciplinary hearing

Letter offering options for a disciplinary hearing

Where an employee is signed off on long-term sick leave during a disciplinary process, there will come a point where you need to try to progress that process to its conclusion. Use our letter offering options for a disciplinary hearing to do this.

Fair procedure

Where the employee is signed off sick pending a disciplinary hearing, your first step is to use our Letter to Sick Employee Postponing a Disciplinary Hearing to postpone the hearing until they’re well enough to attend. If the employee’s sickness absence is only going to be short-term (say, a week or two), then it’s reasonable to simply wait until they’re fit to return. However, if it’s looking like the employee’s absence is going to be more lengthy than that - for example, the next medical certificate (called a statement of fitness for work) submitted is for a month or more - then, as an employer, you have to balance the employee’s need for time off to recover their health against your need to conclude the disciplinary process whilst the issue is still fresh in everyone’s minds. So at this point it would be fair to explore alternative options to enable the disciplinary hearing to go ahead.

Alternative options

There are four main alternative options:

  1. Hold the disciplinary hearing at the employee’s home or otherwise on external premises (i.e. neutral territory) away from the workplace.
  2. Hold the disciplinary hearing by telephone.
  3. Allow the employee to submit a detailed written statement explaining their case and answering the allegations (and setting out any relevant mitigating factors) if they feel they’re not fit to attend a hearing in person.
  4. Allow the employee to send along a representative to act on their behalf at the disciplinary hearing if again they think they’re not fit to attend personally - the starting point is for this to be a work colleague or trade union official as these fall within the statutory right to be accompanied, but there’s nothing to stop you being as fair as possible and extending this to a close family relative, such as a parent, spouse, partner, child, brother or sister. The fairer you’re seen to be, the more it will strengthen your defence if the employee later claims unfair dismissal.

Our Letter Offering Options for a Disciplinary Hearing refers to the fact that the disciplinary hearing has already been postponed once or twice as a result of the employee’s ongoing sickness absence and then it goes on to offer the above four options. Finally, it asks the employee to confirm which option they’re willing to accept by a set deadline (give them at least a week to reply), failing which you’ll have no choice but to re-arrange the disciplinary hearing anyway, warning them that it’s then likely to go ahead in their absence.

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