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Guide to chairing a disciplinary hearing

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Our Guide to Chairing a Disciplinary Hearing ensures confident and fair hearings, helping managers navigate disciplinary processes effectively.

This guide provides a framework to help an employer navigate the considerations that must be addressed when chairing a disciplinary hearing.

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What is a Guide to chairing a disciplinary hearing?

A competent and well-run disciplinary hearing is essential for any reasonable misconduct dismissal.

As such, anybody tasked with chairing a disciplinary hearing must ensure that the hearing is handled in a fair way.

Guide to chairing a disciplinary hearing
guide to chairing a disciplinary hearing

What legal and best practice aspects should employers be aware of?

  • Employment Rights Act 1996: Provides guidelines on conducting fair disciplinary hearings and ensuring employees' right to be heard.

  • Equality Act 2010: Ensures equal treatment during disciplinary processes, preventing discrimination based on protected characteristics.

  • ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures: Offers best practices for handling disciplinary hearings and promoting procedural fairness.

  • Data Protection Act 2018: Ensures proper handling and privacy of employee data during disciplinary hearings.

Guide to chairing a disciplinary hearing


The person leading the hearing (the chair) will introduce the hearing, and explain its purpose and how it will be conducted. The purpose of the hearing will normally be to establish the facts and determine, on conclusion of the hearing, whether the organisation has proper grounds to take disciplinary action against the employee and, if so, the level of such disciplinary action.

The parties present at the hearing will introduce themselves and confirm their respective roles in the hearing.

The chair will state that the hearing is being conducted as part of the organisation's disciplinary procedure, and confirm that a written record of the hearing will be made.


The chair will state whether any witnesses have been asked to give evidence at the hearing, and if so, who they are.

The right to be accompanied

The employee will be entitled to be accompanied, if he/she wishes, by a fellow worker or trade union official of his/her choice.


The chair will explain fully the organisation's case, i.e. the employee's alleged or suspected misconduct or other circumstance leading to the possibility of disciplinary action being taken against him/her. All the relevant facts will be put to the employee, with specific examples of relevant incidents being given where possible.


Where evidence has been obtained from third parties in the form of written statements, either the statements themselves or a summary of their content will be given to the employee. The organisation reserves the right, however, to conceal the identity of the parties who provided this evidence if it thinks it is necessary or appropriate to do so. 

Employer witnesses

Any witnesses whom the organisation has decided to call will be called into the hearing and asked to state their evidence in front of the parties.

Employee questions

The employee or his/her representative will be allowed a full opportunity to question the chair on the organisation's case, and to raise points about any information provided by witnesses. 

Employee right to reply

The employee will be allowed a full and fair opportunity to state his/her side of events, explain his/her conduct and state any mitigating factors. He/she may do this personally, or the employee's representative (if he/she has elected to be represented) may do this on his/her behalf. 

Employee witnesses

Any witnesses whom the employee has arranged to call will be called into the hearing and asked to state their evidence in front of the parties.

Employer questions

The chair will question the employee on his/her evidence and raise points about any information provided by witnesses. Although the employee may confer with his/her representative at any time during the hearing on request, the chair has the right to ask the employee personally to answer any questions put to him/her.

The chair will take into account any mitigating factors put forward by the employee when subsequently making a decision about whether or not to impose a disciplinary penalty, and the level of any such penalty.


The chair will sum up the key points of the hearing.


The chair will inform the employee on when a decision will be made on whether to impose a disciplinary penalty on the employee.


The chair will inform the employee that he/she will have the right to appeal against any disciplinary penalty imposed on him/her.


The chair will close the meeting.

At any point during the hearing, the chair may adjourn the proceedings if it appears necessary or desirable to do so (including for the purpose of gathering further information).

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