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How to prepare for a disciplinary investigation meeting

Published 16 November 2021

A disciplinary investigation meeting invite can be frightening and unsettling.

Being properly prepared for such a meeting will help you to handle what can be a very uncomfortable situation.

You will be invited to a disciplinary investigation meeting if your employer wishes to establish the facts regarding any allegation made against you.

Depending on the seriousness of an allegation you may be suspended from work either before or after a meeting [1 cited 16/11/21]

At a disciplinary investigation meeting, also known as a fact finding meeting, you will be interviewed to determine if formal disciplinary action should be taken against you.

Unlike a disciplinary and grievance hearing, you do not have a statutory right to be accompanied at a disciplinary investigation meeting [2 cited 16/11/21]

However, some employers will allow you to be accompanied at an investigation meeting by a colleague or trade union representative. Check your employer’s disciplinary policy.

If you can take a companion do so. The person accompanying you can take notes and provide other invaluable support.

Even if your employer’s policy does not allow you to be accompanied, you can still request you be allowed to bring a companion.

Although the employer does not have to allow it, it is good practice for it to do so if such a request is made.

The accuracy, or inaccuracy, of the meeting notes are usually a very contentious issue.

At the start  of an investigation meeting ask if you can record it, which can be done with the consent of your employer  [3 cited 16/11/21]. However your employer does not have to agree to it.

If your employer will not allow you to record the meeting be prepared to take notes as best you can.

In accordance with the extensive guidance with the ACAS Code of Practice you should be given advance warning of an investigation meeting and time to prepare for it [4 cited 16/11/21]

You will not always be provided with sufficient information about any allegation to enable you to prepare for an investigation meeting, e.g. the allegation may simply be listed as ‘to discuss allegations of bullying.’

You need to know a range of other information, including who have you allegedly bullied? How are you considered to have bullied the individual?  When? etc.

If necessary seek further information and clarification in writing prior to a disciplinary investigation meeting.

You should be honest, open and cooperate fully at the meeting - but at the same time be careful about what you say.

An investigation will often feel like a fishing exercise. The more you say, the more likely it is it will include something that will be used against you.

Listen to questions carefully and be concise in your answers. If you can answer a question with a simple yes or no, do so.

Your employer will not usually provide you with all of the evidence they have at this stage.

During the meeting you may verbally be given just snippets of information or specific details about allegations you are expected to respond to.

Again, be prepared to ask for clarification or further information to allow you to answer.

You may be asked questions about events or incidents days, weeks or even months earlier.

If you are unable to answer say so, and explain why. Or if  you need more time to answer a question ask for it.

It is always a good idea to agree with your employer for you to have time to reflect on what was discussed at an investigation meeting and to be able to add to your responses.

A reasonable employer will allow you to add any additional comments you wish to make after the meeting and within a reasonable and agreed timeframe.

The meeting can be frustrating and upsetting because you are likely to be hearing allegations and other negative comments about you for the first time.

It is important you remain as calm and composed as you can.

Emotions can run high at a disciplinary investigation meeting. You can ask for as many breaks as you need during it, so do not be afraid to do so.

If you feel yourself becoming upset or need to gather your thoughts to respond to something asked it is a good idea to take a break whenever you need it.

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