Fair Procedures at Disciplinary Hearings

Linda Hynes, employment lawyer with Ogier Leman writes a monthly feature for Legal-Island email subscribers providing handy precedents and checklists for subscribers to download and use.

This month’s topic focuses on fair procedures at disciplinary meetings and Linda has prepared a sample policy to guide Legal-Island subscribers when dealing with disciplinary matters.

The procedure an employer uses when seeking to discipline employees is a crucial factor considered by courts and tribunals when deciding on the fairness of disciplinary sanctions imposed by an employer. The benefit of using clear, fair procedures in a disciplinary process is twofold; at the beginning of the process it means that the employee and the persons carrying out the disciplinary process are clear on what procedures apply to them; at the end of the process it can be an important defence for the employer should a claim be lodged by the employee in respect of the process or a decision to dismiss.

Linda has prepared a checklist for employers and HR managers to consider both when looking at their disciplinary procedures and also at the outset of a disciplinary process with an employee. Linda recommends that employers are also mindful of the Labour Relations Commission Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (SI No. 146 of 2000). This sets out best practice guidance for employers when implementing a disciplinary procedure and is often referred to in unfair dismissal hearings.

It is clear from a significant number of decisions that even where the substantive reason for dismissing an employee is fair, if appropriate procedures have not been followed, the dismissal itself will be deemed unfair and will attract an award against the employer. Where an employer can clearly evidence that they had appropriate procedures in place and that they correctly followed these procedures then they are in a much stronger position to defend claims made against them. All dismissals are unfair until the employer proves they are fair so employers should ensure they are in a good position to do this by ensuring fair procedures are in place and are followed.

Linda also recommends that employers consider looking at including a clause in their probation policy or contract of employment that allows them to use a shortened disciplinary procedure or states that the regular disciplinary procedure will not apply to the probation period.

Click here to access the fair procedures in disciplinary processes checklist.


This publication is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. No liability is accepted by Ogier Leman for any action taken or not taken in reliance on the information set out in this publication. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. Any and all information is subject to change.

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