Meetings: Investigation, disciplinary or grievance?

Posted on 17th July 2019

You will probably be meeting with your line manager or supervisor on an ongoing basis to discuss such things as well-being, specific issues, successes and training needs. Most of us are used to this type of informal meeting and they offer a good opportunity for you and your employer to discuss what’s going well and where there may be development opportunities.

Sometimes however, you may be invited to a more formal meeting, for example an investigatory or disciplinary meeting or to discuss a grievance.

When you are invited to a meeting in respect of a formal meeting it can be a time of concern and it may raise a number of questions. These are some of the most common.

disciplinary or grievance meetings

How do I know what type of meeting I’m going to attend?

Your employer should invite you to the meeting in writing or by email, making it clear if this relates to an investigation, disciplinary or grievance.

Do I need to prepare?

Request and review your employer’s policy for the type of meeting you are attending and familiarise yourself with the process your employer intends to follow.  For disciplinary meetings, you are entitled to be provided with relevant documentation to consider before the meeting.

If you have information you feel will be relevant to the meeting, take this with you. You can also take a pen and paper if you want to make your own notes. Don’t be afraid to ask those conducting the meeting to slow down or repeat something if you are taking your own notes.

Can I take someone with me to a meeting?

In the case of a grievance meeting or disciplinary hearing, you can be accompanied, usually by a work colleague or a Trade Union representative.  If you do not have a work colleague or Trade Union representative, you can request whether a companion would be permitted to attend and provide reasons for this.

For an investigatory meeting you are not legally entitled to be accompanied, but some company policies may permit it. If you feel there are other circumstances in which you need support at the meeting, you can request this, but in the case of an investigation, your employer does not have to agree.

Can I take my partner or a family member into a meeting with me as a companion?

It’s not recommended as those close to you can find it difficult to remain objective.

Can my employer make a recording of meetings?

Yes, but they should make you aware at the start of any meeting that a recording is to be taken.

Can I record a meeting?

You can ask your employer if you can record the meeting, but your employer can refuse. If your employer does refuse you should respect their decision. Any covert recording without permission may go against you or any case you bring at a future time and, depending on your employer’s policy regarding covert recordings, you may find yourself being subject to disciplinary proceedings.

This was highlighted in the recent case Phoenix House Ltd v Stockman.

Mrs Stockman complained of unfair treatment during a restructure within Phoenix House Ltd and made a covert recording of a discussion with the head of HR. This recording was only disclosed following Mrs Stockman’s successful claim for unfair dismissal.

Phoenix House Ltd successfully appealed against the compensation awarded to Mrs Stockman after arguing that recording the discussion was misconduct.

Mrs Stockman appealed against the reduction in compensation and this was subsequently dismissed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) finding that the Tribunal had taken the correct action in relation to reducing her award.  The EAT considered it good employment practice for an employee or an employer to say if there was any intention to record a meeting except in special circumstances and it would generally amount to misconduct not to do so.

What should I do with minutes of the meeting?

Minutes could be handwritten and a copy presented to you at the end of the meeting, or typed and sent to you at a later date. You may be asked to sign them. It’s important that you don’t sign until you have had an opportunity to check that they are an accurate representation of the meeting.

If minutes are handed to you at the end of a meeting, ask for time to read them. You can ask to take these away with you before signing, especially if a meeting has been difficult or upsetting.  If the minutes are not accurate, don’t sign them.

What if I don’t agree with the minutes?

Make sure you advise your employer of any discrepancies in writing by clearly setting these out and request the minutes be updated.  It’s important to check any notes of meetings and request changes even if you are not required to sign them.

If you don’t check or request amendments and sign them and you later disagree with something in the minutes, this could go against you at a future stage.

I haven’t been given any minutes do I need them?

If no meeting minutes are offered to you, you should request them and as mentioned above go through the same process of checking and requesting any amendments.

How we can help

If you are facing disciplinary proceedings at work, we can fully support you. This could be as simple as offering you advice on your rights and what to look for as an outcome.  We can also offer to guide you throughout the disciplinary procedure, including preparing correspondence for the disciplinary hearing and appeal.

Take a look at our advice for employees regarding disciplinary proceedings if you want further information on this specifically.

Get in touch now if you need advice or support on any aspect of employment law by emailing [email protected] or give us a call on 0114 266 55 77 – initial chats are always free.