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University Disciplinary Policy: Staff Guide

This guide is intended to explain the University disciplinary process, the roles and responsibilities of those involved, and the support mechanisms that are available.  It is important that this guidance is read in conjunction with the University’s Disciplinary Policy.

The Disciplinary Policy is intended to ensure that allegations of misconduct are managed fairly and consistently with the aim of trying to resolve disciplinary matters informally, wherever possible.  Formal action will only be taken when it is required.

Your line manager will seek to resolve issues informally in the first instance, this would normally involve a confidential fact-finding meeting between yourself and your line manager. Your line manager will explain the issue and will describe the improvement which is needed, including a timeframe. Together, you and your line manager will explore support mechanisms and ways in which you can achieve the necessary improvement and how this will be reviewed and monitored to assess progress.  

If following the fact-finding meeting formal action is being considered as the next step this will be communicated to you.

Where more serious misconduct is alleged, an investigation may be carried out to establish the facts.  An investigation can be a simple gathering of relevant documents, or it can involve interviewing yourself and any relevant witnesses.  If you are interviewed, you will be made aware of the allegation(s) and be given reasonable notice of the interview (not less than five working days).  It is important to make the investigator aware of any special requirements you may have or reasonable adjustments that might be required for you to attend an interview.

You are encouraged to co-operate with any investigation process, and answer any questions as fully as you can, setting out any special circumstances. Where limited facts are provided, it may mean that decisions about possible disciplinary action are reached on the basis of partial information.

The individual undertaking the investigation will permit you to be accompanied by a companion such as a recognised trade union representative or work colleague to ensure you are fully supported. If you wish to be supported you must give the proposed companion’s name, at least 48 hours in advance of any investigation meeting.

Should you wish to provide a written submission or submit any related evidence to assist with the investigation in advance of the meeting, you may do so.

Where an allegation relates to potentially serious misconduct, employees may be suspended from work to enable a full and fair investigation to take place. Care will be taken to ensure that any period of suspension is as brief as possible.

When the investigation is complete, a decision will be made as to the next steps, based on the information gathered.  These steps will be to either take no further action or to proceed to a formal disciplinary hearing.

At the hearing the Chair will consider all the evidence and to enable you and your chosen representative to be fully prepared you will receive the following documentation at least five working days in advance of the hearing:

  • confirmation of the date, time, and location of the hearing.  It is important to note that if you are unable to attend the original date you will be given an alternative date.  If you are unable to attend the second date the hearing may take place in your absence
  • a statement of the allegation
  • copies of the evidence to be considered
  • names of the people who will attend the hearing
  • names of any witnesses who will attend the hearing
  • notice of the potential outcome.
  • advise the panel of your representative (if you wish to be accompanied)
  • advise the Chair of any special requirements
  • provide a copy of any additional documentation to support your case, this would normally include a written statement.  This information must be submitted at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing
  • advise the Chair of any witnesses that you wish to call.
  • be accompanied by a recognised trade union representative or a work colleague
  • have reasonable adjustments if required
  • call witnesses to support your case. 

At the hearing, management representatives will normally present the allegations, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions of them and any witnesses.  You will then have the opportunity to present your case.  This is typically a summary of the main points set out in your written statement, which the Chair will have read in advance of the hearing.  The chair may then ask questions relating to your evidence, or that of your witnesses.

You can ask for an adjournment at any time during the hearing.  

The panel Chair may inform you of the outcome at the end of the hearing, after an adjournment.  If the Chair requires further time to consider your case, you will be informed of the outcome in writing within 10 working days of the hearing.  

The Chair will dismiss the allegation where it is found there is no supporting evidence or where there is appropriate mitigation.  Alternatively, if it is found that the allegations are founded a disciplinary sanction may be imposed, which could be a warning, dismissal, or other sanction short of dismissal.  Examples provided within the policy regarding action short of dismissal could include demotion.

Any outcome will be communicated in writing within 10 working days of the hearing, however in complex cases a short extension may be necessary and this will be communicated to you.

You can appeal the outcome by writing to the Director of Human Resources within five working days of receipt of the written outcome letter, specifying your grounds of appeal.  The University will normally seek to hear an appeal within 20 working days of receipt of the submitted appeal   

The University recognises that being involved in a formal disciplinary procedure may be an extremely difficult time for you, however there is a 24-hour confidential employee assistance programme available to you on 0800 358 4858. Further information can be found on the HR pages of Employee assistance programme.

The University is committed to ensuring that employees and their representatives do not experience any disadvantage during a disciplinary process and therefore it is important that you seek any reasonable adjustments necessary at the earliest opportunity. This will enable the University to accommodate your request, where reasonably practicable.