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How to Cope With a Disciplinary in 4 Easy Steps

Updated on June 30, 2018
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Kate has over eight years of experience as an employment and personal injury legal executive. She runs LawCat, a legal explanations website.

Unfortunately, there is a chance that during your working life you will find yourself being disciplined for one reason or another. It can be inherently stressful to have to deal with disciplinary proceedings; this article will assist in combating that stress by explaining what can happen when you are accused of misconduct at work and will provide a step by step guide on how to handle the situation.

It should be noted initially that each company and business will have its Disciplinary Procedures. These will be contained in the Office Manual and the Terms of Business and your contract. If you cannot locate them, then ask a supervisor or the office administrator as they will be able to help you. However, while each company or businesses disciplinary procedure may differ slightly if they are to conform to ACAS’ guidelines and thus avoid punishment if a Tribunal claim is brought later down the line, then they will all be based on the same structure and have a great many similarities.

In light of each company having its procedure, the information below is generalised.

Have you been called for a disciplinary?

Have you been called for a disciplinary?

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What Is a Disciplinary?

A disciplinary situation can arise in a variety of ways, but the most common reasons you may be called for a disciplinary will be misconduct and poor performance.

If you are accused of misconduct, you can be called in to undergo disciplinary action. You should be informed throughout this process as all procedures relating to disciplinary situations should be:

  • Fair and transparent
  • Set out in writing, in specific and clear language.
  • Rules and procedures should be explained to employees and managers; employees and managers should also be informed where to find the rules.

The Disciplinary: Step One

The first step in any disciplinary procedure should be to establish your guilt.

To do so, your employer should establish the facts of your case by carrying out investigations without unreasonable delay. Investigations can be your employer discussing the issue with anyone else involved, such as your direct supervisor. Or it could involve them reviewing records and CCTV footage. Or it could involve them calling you in for an investigatory meeting.

Investigation meetings are a useful way of finding out the facts (keep in mind though that these meetings should not result in disciplinary action, they are just to investigate). It should also be noted that if at all possible, different people should carry out the investigation to those conducting the disciplinary hearing. This helps enable objectivity.

LawCat Tip

If you are put on suspension while the investigation is carried out this should be with pay and for as brief time as possible. The suspension should not be considered a disciplinary action and should regularly be reviewed.

The Disciplinary: Step Two

If, after the investigation is completed, it is decided that there is no case for you to answer then you will be informed of this and you can return to work as normal. Your employer does not owe you an apology as it is their duty to investigate any potential misconduct fully.

If however, the findings of the investigation show that there is a disciplinary case to answer, then you should be notified of this in writing.

Sufficient information should be contained in this letter so that you can respond to the case against you at the disciplinary meeting. The letter will tell you if your employer intends to call any witnesses to the meeting. You should also be informed in his letter about the potential outcomes of the meeting.

Copies of evidence should also be enclosed with the letter, as well as the date and time of the disciplinary meeting.

Once you have received and read this letter you should confirm your attendance, or if the date is not one you can attend and would like an alternative. You should also state if you will want to call any of your witnesses and if you wish to be accompanied at this meeting. If the meeting could result in a formal warning being issued, then you have the right to be accompanied to this meeting.

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The Disciplinary: Step Three

The meeting should be held promptly, but there should be enough time before the meeting to allow you enough time to prepare your case.

Once in the meeting, the situation should be explained verbally to you. Your employer should outline the allegations against you and the evidence they have found to make them have a reasonable belief that the accusations are accurate. They will also call any witnesses that they intend to call.

When your employer has laid out their case, you will have an opportunity to respond. You should refute each of the allegations in a structured and clear way. Say why the allegation is not accurate and if possible back this up with evidence. Evidence can be documented, witness evidence or verbal evidence on your part. However, you should note that documented evidence and witness evidence will be more effective than your verbal evidence.

The Disciplinary: Step Four

Once the meeting has taken place, your employer needs to make a decision as to what action they feel is appropriate in light of the accusations. Once they have made their decision, you should be informed in writing; this is also true if your employer decides that no action is to be taken against you.

If your misconduct was proven, then it is standard procedure for you to be given a written warning. However, if your action was sufficiently severe enough, then a final warning can be issued regardless of how many previous warnings you have. Lastly, if your misconduct is considered to be gross misconduct, then you can be dismissed.

You have the right to appeal the decision if you choose.


You should now have an understanding of the structure of a disciplinary. How each stage should be managed and what to expect. Now that you have this basic understanding you should be able to prepare and manage the situation in the best way so as to foster the best outcome for you and your employer.


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