One of the areas RBHR often gets called in to assist our clients with is disciplinary, and that is because they recognise that no matter the circumstances, following the legal procedure is vital. How often have you seen those headlines about companies being fined thousands of pounds for firing someone and more often that not when you dig into the details (which we do!) it is down to mishandling of the process.
Unfortunately, for many managers, especially from smaller companies, it is often those lacking formal HR expertise that are left to conduct investigations and disciplinary hearings. Now add in the new burden of grappling with technology on top of trying to follow all the key principles and the employer’s procedures, and it can often lead to vital steps being overlooked.
You still have to ensure a hearing is conducted fairly when someone is working from home or on furlough. New guidance warns that extra care needs to be taken as to how a hearing is carried out. In some cases, a telephone call may be acceptable, but if there is a major factual dispute, a physical hearing – or at least a video conference – is by far a better option.
When using technology, it is essential to follow the same key principles that would be used for an in person hearing and this might mean thinking out of the box to ensure they are covered.
Individuals still need to be allowed to bring a companion
The conference set up should provide for all relevant people to join the hearing, including the decision maker, the note taker, the witnesses, the employee and their companion
Those responsible for the process should allow for its limitations; for instance, by arranging a series of calls to let all parties question the witnesses, or pausing if someone is dropped, or using private break out rooms for discussions.
As to the practical difficulties of remote or furloughed employees, one of the biggest challenges is to make all relevant papers available. Hearings often involve a lot of documents, and it might be tempting to simply send multiple attachments. Those are not always easy to read or have available during the hearing, this could lead to the employee getting confused and the whole process being delayed.
Taking care of these types of concerns are just a few of the reasons why so many of our partners trust us to support them when they are handling the tricky world of disciplinary proceedings. If you find yourself in need of help or advice on a disciplinary matter, we are just a call or click away – Telephone 01935 411191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our Consultants.