If your employer decides to start formal disciplinary or dismissal action against you, they should follow their company procedures.

Receiving a letter from your employer

If your employer is considering disciplinary action or dismissal, their first step should generally be to write to you, setting out the problem. The letter should obtain information about your alleged misconduct or poor performance and its possible consequences. It should give you enough information to allow you to prepare a reply or an explanation before the meeting.

Meeting with your employer

Once your employer has contacted you in writing, they should arrange a meeting at a reasonable time and place to discuss the issue. Your employer should not take any disciplinary action before this meeting.

In the meeting, your employer should explain the complaint against you and go through the evidence. Your employer should give you the opportunity to set out your case at the meeting. Make every effort to attend.

However, the companion cannot answer questions on your behalf. He or she is protected from unfair dismissal or other mistreatment for supporting you.

In some cases, if you raise a significant new fact or issue in the meeting, your employer may break off the meeting to look into the issues. They should rearrange the meeting for a later date.

After the meeting your employer should, without any unreasonable delay, tell you their decision and the action they are going to take. They can do this verbally, although they should always confirm it in writing. They must also tell you of your right to appeal their decision. The decision might be:

   no action

   verbal warning

   written warning

   final warning



The outcome might also be anything else that could resolve the problem. For example, it could be an agreement to take part in mediation with a co-worker with whom you have had personal problems.

Appealing your employer’s decision

You have a statutory right to take a companion to the meeting with you. To exercise this right you must first make a request to your employer for someone to accompany you. They may be a colleague, trade union representative or official.

If no colleague will accompany you, and you are not a trade union member, ask if you can bring a family member. Your employer does not have to agree to this unless your employment contract says they must. However, it can still be worth asking and explaining why you feel it would be helpful.

The companion can:

   present and/or sum up your case

   talk on your behalf

   discuss matters with you during the hearing.

If you feel the disciplinary action taken against you is wrong or unjust you can appeal against it. You need to write to your employer and tell them that you are appealing against their decision, explaining why you don’t agree with it. Your employer should arrange a further meeting to discuss your appeal.

Appeals should be heard without unreasonable delay. Wherever possible, your employer should make sure the appeal is dealt with by a manager who has not previously been involved in the case.

The appeal hearing is similar to the original meeting, and you have a right to a companion, as before. You should make sure you take notes at the appeal meeting. After the appeal meeting, your employer should write to you to tell you their final decision.


Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 25 • No11 • November 2010 •