How to Chair a Formal Hearing
For the Disciplinary 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, any HR member supporting panel, note-taker, management representative, support for management side 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 their right to be accompanied but has chosen to attend unaccompanied.
- 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.
- Confirm with the employee that they understand that it is a formal disciplinary hearing which will be conducted in line with the University of Sheffield’s Disciplinary 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 – 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 if appropriate invite a HR representative (if applicable) to outline the procedure.
- Confirm Documentation provided – Identifying, if appropriate, any other documentation the panel has at their disposal for reference purposes. Also confirm if the panel received any additional information/evidence from the employee.
- 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 both management and 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 management representatives will be invited to present the allegation(s) against the employee and the evidence upon which this is based, which may include calling witnesses.
- The staff member, their representative if applicable and the panel will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the management representatives and any witnesses, and to query the evidence provided.
- The staff member and their representative are then invited to present their case, which again may rely on witnesses.
- The panel and the management representatives will correspondingly be allowed to ask questions of the employee and any witnesses.
- Both the management representatives and the employee will be asked to provide a brief concluding statement.
- The Panel will adjourn for the Panel to consider the decision.
- Hear case based on the above running order.
- 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, ensuring that everyone understands what is going to happen.
- Panel makes a decision (See relevant procedure for list of potential outcomes)
- Advise that the outcome of the hearing should be confirmed to the employee in writing, usually within 7 days of the hearing. See Outcome Letter Template, which includes notification of their right to appeal and to whom any such appeal should be addressed).
- Record summary of the discussions, (including any agreed actions and timescales for improvement etc).
- Ensure that the records are factual, unambiguous and constructive (assume that the staff member may see these).
- 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.