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Five-step plan to prepare for a disciplinary appeal hearing

Published 25 October 2021

If you are unfairly issued with a formal disciplinary sanction the good news is you can challenge it  - but you’ve got to put the work in to get the result you want.

If an allegation of misconduct against you is upheld you can be issued with a formal warning, or be  dismissed if any allegation is serious.

You have the right to appeal against any disciplinary action your employer takes against you following a disciplinary meeting [1 cited 25/10/21].

You can do so if you believe that the action is wrong, unfair or unduly harsh

If your disciplinary appeal is going to be successful, you will need to put the work in to give yourself the best chance to get the outcome you want.


1) It may sound obvious, but make sure you understand the appeals process. Some employers will use a disciplinary appeal hearing as a full rehearing of the case while others make it clear it is not.

Review your employer’s disciplinary policy and section on appeals, so that you know exactly what to expect and prepare for.


2) Prior to a disciplinary appeal hearing think carefully, be reasonable and clear about the outcome you want.

Be ready to explain your desired outcome, because as part of a fair appeal hearing your employer should ask what it is.

For example, If you have been issued with a written warning you may want it to be overturned, or if you have been dismissed you may want to be reinstated. Alternatively, with a dismissal you may want to reach a settlement agreement with your employer to avoid subsequent legal proceedings [2 cited 25/10/21]


3) To initiate the disciplinary appeals process you will have submitted a letter detailing your grounds for appeal [3 cited 25/10/21]  

The letter will be used as the basis to consider your appeal. The hearing will be structured around the letter, so prepare to present your case with this in mind.

In your appeal letter you should always request all of the information gathered, used and considered in reaching the outcome. If you did not do so in the appeal letter, you should do it in writing prior to your appeal hearing

The outcome letter will typically refer to investigations that have been carried out and people spoken to, but not provide you with evidence of this.

Being able to review all of that information will help you to fully understand the basis and justification for the decision.

If you are challenging a disciplinary outcome, the evidence of any investigation conducted will often provide information you can use in support of your appeal.


 Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the appeal hearing, the outcome is very important so do not rush it.

You should present your appeal case in writing and detail the main points to support it and include reference to any relevant evidence.

The ACAS Code of Practice advises that the appeal hearing should be an opportunity for you to fully explain your appeal [4 cited 25/10/21]

So do not worry about writing down every single word you wish to say, focus on the main points and expand on them at the hearing.

Your employer will take notes of what is said at the appeal hearing, but they will usually not be a verbatim account of the discussion.

Given the potential implications of an appeal outcome it is always helpful to have an accurate record of the meeting. You should request to audio record a disciplinary appeal hearing.

Your employer can reject the request and if it does, you should take your own notes as best as you can at the hearing.


You have a statutory right to take either a colleague, a trade union representative, or an official employed by a trade union to a disciplinary appeal hearing   [5 cited 25/10/21]

It is a good idea to arrange to do so prior to a hearing, as your companion can help to take notes of the meeting and help you to present your case.

Prior to the disciplinary appeal hearing notify your employer of the details of your chosen companion.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 


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