How to Chair a Formal Hearing
For the Capability Procedure
The below checklist is for guidance purposes only, as it is recognised that the Chair will need to determine how best to manage any hearing given the individual circumstances of the case.
Please ensure that all discussions during this process are fair, appropriate and above reproach.
- Welcome attendees.
- Request that all attendees turn off any electronic devises to avoid unnecessary interruptions during the meeting and advise that the University expressly prohibits the recording of meetings.
- Introduce those present and their roles (see guidance re: roles/responsibilities); this may include: panel members, HR member supporting panel, note taker, etc.
- Representation of Employee – If accompanied confirm the role of the companion, i.e. that they will be able to address the hearing in order to: put the employee’s case forward; sum up the case; respond on the employee’s behalf to any view expressed at the hearing; and confer with the employee. However, the representative will not usually answer questions on behalf of the employee, but may do so with the agreement of the panel.
- If not accompanied note that the employee has been advised of his/her right to be accompanied but has chosen to attend unaccompanied.
- Identify, if appropriate, any other documentation the panel has at their disposal for reference purposes.
- Ask the employee to introduce themselves and any companion they may have with them. Check whether the participants are happy with use of first names.
- Confirm with the employee that they have received the letter notifying them of the hearing and the associated documentation providing advanced disclosure of the case. Also confirm if the panel received any information/evidence from the employee.
- Confirm with the employee that they understand that it is a formal Capability hearing which will be conducted in line with the University of Sheffield's Capability procedure. [If appropriate, having first sought advice from HR, subject to previous action/warnings, advise that one potential outcome of the hearing could be dismissal due to capability – however in such as case it is essential that delegated authority is provided beforehand]
- Ask that all communications go through you as the Chair during the hearing.
- Advise of the procedure or invite a HR representative (if applicable) to outline the procedure.
- Adjournments - Advise that should any party consider an adjournment necessary requests should be made via the chair. Identify the location of the rooms available to the employee.
- Taking of Notes – Advise that the note-taker will take summary notes to support the panel’s consideration. Should the employee want a summary of these notes these can be provided on request. Advise that both the employee and their representative would be welcome to make their own notes.
- Respond to any procedural concerns/queries that may arise.
- The Chair or the staff member's manager will outline to the employee: the nature of the performance concerns; the standard of performance expected; and what is expected to bring performance back to the required standard.
- Employee will be invited to state his/her case.
- If applicable, where previously agreed with the Chair, relevant witnesses may be called. The Panel will ask questions/seek clarification as necessary.
- The panel will then seek to explore with the employee: possible reasons for under-performance; impact/outcome of any training/previous intervention/monitoring or support; and any further interventions or support which may be needed to enable the employee to remedy the situation This might include a discussion about the appropriate length of any potential assessment period and the interval of future review meetings. Giving the staff member every opportunity to put their case forward/ask questions. [NOTE: Allow the individual to: respond to the outcomes of the monitoring process; and raise any relevant factors/ offer proposals, all of which should be taken into consideration when deciding future action].
- The Panel will adjourn (or close the hearing) for the Panel to consider the decision.
- Hear case based on the above running order. If any failure to meet the expectations may have been influenced by illness or disability the Panel should consider whether all reasonable adjustments have been made.
- Panel either adjourns or closes the hearing to consider the case
- If the panel is unable to make a decision as further information/time is required, inform the employee as to when they can expect written notification of the decision (or if further action was deemed necessary what this would entail)
- When closing the hearing, ensure that everyone understands what is going to happen.
- Panel makes a decision (See procedure for list of potential outcomes). Should a decision be made after an adjournment resulting in an improvement note/warning/action inform the individual that further action may need to be considered if the individuals performance is not considered to have met or likely to meet the required expectations/targets during the assessment period.
- Advise that the outcome of the hearing should be confirmed to the employee in writing, usually within 7 days of the hearing (See Appropriate Hearing Outcome Letter Template, which includes notification of their right to appeal and to whom any such appeal should be addressed).
- Also advise that failure to improve sufficiently within this timeframe is likely to lead to further formal action up to and including potential dismissal depending upon the circumstances of the case.
- Record summary of the discussions, (including any agreed actions and timescales for improvement etc).
- Ensure that the records are factual and constructive.
- Write to employee summarising the outcome of hearing and any next steps.
- Store records securely, as these may be subsequently required within later procedural stages and shared with all relevant parties, including the employee.