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Disciplinary Appeals Process: Get it Wrong and You Could Pay Dearly

Published 08 August 2016

Getting a disciplinary decision wrong can prove costly, which means the benefit of a fair appeal process is priceless. After postman Anthony Holt was reportedly fired for attempting to break into his van to retrieve the keys he had accidently locked inside, he lodged an appeal (1).

The popular postie was backed by more than 3,500 people who signed a petition calling for him to be reinstated (2).

Following a successful appeal he was able to return to work and his case made headline news last week (3).

For any employer, regardless of size, the cost of losing an Employment Claim for unfair dismissal can add up. Depending on the type of case the tribunal can order the employer to pay the claimant compensation, damages or loss of earnings and pay their tribunal fees (4).

In addition figures from The British Chambers of Commerce released last year said that the average cost to employers of defending an employment tribunal is around £8,500 (5).

For a disciplinary appeal hearing chair the idea of overturning the decision of a colleague can appear daunting for fear of undermining another manager, but any such thoughts should be banished.

Acas (6) advise the employers should change a previous decision if it becomes apparent that it was not soundly based as such action does not undermine authority but rather makes clear the independent nature of the appeal.

If the decision is overturned consideration should be given as to whether training for managers needs to be improved, if rules need clarification, or are if there other implications to be considered.

At the appeal hearing (7) it is important to fully understand the employee’s grounds for appeal, consider any new evidence, check and summarise the facts and carry out further enquiries if necessary before adjourning to reach a decision.

The employee should be informed about of the result of the appeal as soon as possible and the reason for the decision explained.


  1. Butler K. People power victory for postman sacked after locking keys in van [Internet]. men. 2016 [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:
  2. Petition · Royal Mail: Reinstate Anthony Holt as our postman. · [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:
  3. Royal Mail postman who was sacked returns to work after residents campaign | UK | News | Daily Express [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:
  4. Employment tribunal awards | Morton Fraser | Edinburgh and Glasgow | Solicitors | Estate Agents | Wealth Managers [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:
  5. Failed tribunal claim still costs employer £63,000, FOI request reveals - People Management Magazine Online [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:
  6. Discipline and grievance - Acas Code of Practice | Acas [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:
  7. Disciplinary procedures and action against you at work - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2016 Aug 8]. Available from:

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