Disciplinary Meeting

This guide outlines the procedures for conducting formal disciplinary meetings, primarily addressing conduct issues (e.g., lateness, dishonesty) rather than poor performance.

What Constitutes a Formal Disciplinary Meeting?

A formal disciplinary meeting involves an employer and an employee discussing performance or behavioural concerns.

When Should a Formal Disciplinary Meeting Occur?

It’s appropriate to hold a formal disciplinary meeting when informal methods of performance management have proved ineffective. Employers must ensure a fair and consistent process is followed when contemplating disciplinary actions.

Why is This Process Crucial?

Employers risk claims, such as unfair dismissal, if they terminate employment without adhering to a “procedurally fair” disciplinary process. Formal meetings play a vital role in demonstrating fair procedural conduct.

How Should Employers Prepare?

Employers should gather relevant information, notify the employee in writing, and allow them to respond to allegations, including the option to bring a support person.

Step 1: Sending a Written Invitation

The invitation letter should include:

  • Meeting details (time, date, location)
  • Specific conduct issues for discussion
  • Permission for a support person
  • Warning of potential outcomes
  • Confidentiality requirement

During the meeting:

  • The employer explains allegations and evidence.
  • The employee responds, considering any mitigating factors.
  • A decision is reached, and the outcome is communicated in writing.

Step 2: Conducting the Meeting

During the meeting:

  • Remind the support person of their role.
  • Present allegations and seek the employee’s response.
  • If termination is considered, ask for the employee’s perspective.
  • Record the discussion.
  • Conclude by stating the decision will be communicated later.

Do not make immediate decisions regarding termination or warnings. Take time to consider and investigate further, considering the employee’s circumstances.

What are the Possible Outcomes?

Possible outcomes include taking no action, issuing a formal warning, or termination. All outcomes must be confirmed in writing.

Additional Considerations

Employers must ensure fairness, consistency, and documentation throughout the process. Compliance with relevant employment laws, such as the Fair Work Act 2009, is crucial.

Legal Requirements

Australian law mandates providing notice of the meeting’s purpose and potential outcomes, allowing employees to bring a support person. Employers must also adhere to contractual or industrial instrument provisions.

Can Employees Refuse Attendance?

While employees can’t refuse attendance outright, they can request reasonable adjustments to meeting times or locations for valid reasons, which employers should consider in good faith.

 

About HR Connect

HR Connect is one of Australia’s leading providers of Human Resources services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance within small to medium businesses. We provide actionable solutions through tailored HR advice – including compliance health checks through an HR audit, HR documents for compliant policies and procedures, WHS compliance, and advice on employment.

 

Disclaimer

The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact HR Connect for advice.

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