No shows to disciplinary meetings – An Employer’s Guide

Imagine the situation.

You have invited an employee to a disciplinary meeting. You have informed them of the date, time and place of the meeting and given them sufficient information about the alleged misconduct and possible consequences.  

You have also given them copies of the evidence that will be discussed in the meeting and informed them of their right to be accompanied by a fellow colleague or a trade union representative.

You have done everything right, but for some reason, the employee doesn’t turn up to the meeting.

They may be sick, they feel uncomfortable with the location or they may be simply delaying the process.

[infobox] Exclusive Bonus: Get The Definitive Employer’s Guide to Misconduct & Disciplinary Procedures to discover how to handle the disciplinary process like an HR expert. Download Now[/infobox]

What should employers do?

The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures clearly sets out that ‘employers and employees (and their companions) should make every effort to attend the meeting’. It continues that ‘where an employee is persistently unable or unwilling to attend a disciplinary meeting without good cause the employer should make a decision on the evidence available’.

Therefore if the employee fails to turn up to the meeting, you should rearrange the meeting for another time.

If they do not attend for a second time, you should delve into the reasons for their absences, for example, they may be too sick to be present. If so, you can reschedule for when they are feeling better of if it is a long-term absence, you can think about seeking medical evidence to ascertain when they would be well enough to attend a disciplinary meeting or what adjustments could be made.

You can also talk to the employee to find out appropriate times and dates and try and get confirmation that they will attend the rescheduled meeting. It is worth reminding them that if they do not attend, a decision may need to be made in their absence.

The number of times you will need to rearrange the meeting will depend on the reasons for non-attendance and the circumstances of the case, for example, when deciding what is reasonable, you could consider their previous disciplinary record, their length of service and how serious the disciplinary issue is. When dealing with disciplinary issues, we would urge you to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

However, in cases of repeated failures to attend the meeting without a good reason, you should give them the opportunity to make written representations and you may need to make a decision on the evidence that you have available to you.

Once you have made a decision and informed them, you should give the employee the chance to appeal the decision.

[infobox] Exclusive Bonus: Get The Definitive Employer’s Guide to Misconduct & Disciplinary Procedures to discover how to handle the disciplinary process like an HR expert. Download Now[/infobox]

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James Tamm

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