Disciplinary Preparation Avoids Trouble Down The Line

Reproduced from our ready-to-deliver Disciplinary Skills course

Feel free to circulate as e-learning to your staff.

Disciplinary Interview at Work
  • Management Skills

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs"

Henry Ford

The Employment Act 2008 places greater emphasis on the employer to ensure disciplinary issues are dealt with in accordance with new statutory procedures and guidelines. A.C.A.S. says: "Those responsible for using and operating the disciplinary rules, including managers at all levels, should be trained for the task".

Prepare effectively and the manager is well on their way to delivering an effective, fair and professional process. Skimp on preparation and the door could be open to a tribunal claim.

Consider these preparation tips:

  • Preparing the Employee (what to communicate to the employee and how)
  • Preparing the Environment (the layout and nature of the place you will deliver the disciplinary interview)
  • Preparing the Manager (other things a manager has to do to get ready to deliver the interview).


  • Let them know in advance verbally and in writing. Give at least 72 hours notice of the interview as a guide (source: C.I.P.D.)
  • Inform employee of the date, time, location and reason for the interview. Ensure the employee is aware that this is part of the organisation’s disciplinary procedure
  • Ask for agreement on date/time or accommodate alternative suggestion from employee if they have a valid reason for not attending
  • Advise of the right of witness i.e. the companion. The companion can be a work colleague or employee representative
  • Consider the provision of an interpreter to help if language difficulties are anticipated. Ideally this person should be the Companion
  • Give the employee copies of any evidence to allow them to make their case. This includes witness statements, performance reports, emails


  • Book a quiet meeting room, the ideal being a location away from the employee’s immediate work environment
  • Host meeting across a table as a formal setting
  • Adjust heating if possible and open window for ventilation
  • Switch mobile phones off and internal phone diverted
  • Avoid interruptions by warning others and use ‘Do not disturb’ sign
  • Ensure confidentiality by closing blinds or covering up internal windows. Beware of ‘gold fishbowl offices’ (people staring in could be viewed as harassment by the employee)
  • Consider the employee’s reaction e.g. have tissues ready and possibly a supply of water. One manager primed Security to be ready to step in!
  • Have writing pads and pens ready for employee and companions


  • Prepare the facts – what has happened?; What evidence exists? (e.g. performance reports); What feedback have you given?
  • If necessary, question the employee, as part of the investigation, to clarify/confirm facts. Ensure you state that the discussion is part of the disciplinary investigation. NOTE: It is only at the end of the investigation phase that the manager decides if the evidence warrants holding a disciplinary interview
  • Consider what the employee’s version of events might be and if possible check them out beforehand. At all times remain open and objective
  • Do you need to talk to anyone else? e.g. anyone who witnessed an incident and consider the reliability of this source
  • Organise a manager witness to take notes during the proceedings
  • Discuss with Human Resources/ own boss for advice on your approach
  • Determine how you will run the interview. Perhaps set up an agenda or even script certain parts to read out
  • Remain open minded and avoid being judgemental. Outcomes are decided after the disciplinary interview when all the evidence has been aired, discussed and reflected upon

Please Note These notes should be checked and verified by your organisation’s legal team prior to re-circulation to ensure they comply with your disciplinary procedure. While every care has been taken in compilation, ABC Training Solutions Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions; the notes are not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. ABC Training Solutions Ltd cannot be held responsible for any effect caused by the use of this resource.

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