How to Chair a Formal Hearing
For the Sickness Absence 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; this may include: Panel member(s), HR member supporting panel, note taker etc.
- 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 Sickness Absence Management procedure. [If appropriate, having first sought advice from HR, subject to previous action, 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.
- Confirm receipt of any other documentation/information provided by the employee.
- Confirm with the employee that they understand that it is a formal capability hearing which will be conducted in line with the Sickness Absence Management procedure.
- Advise that any questions, comfort breaks and adjournments requests should be directed at the Chair. Confirm the location of the room made available to the employee for any adjournments.
Where reasonable adjustments where required, check with the employee that these meet their needs.
- Advise of the procedure or if appropriate invite a HR representative (if applicable) to outline the procedure.
- 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.
- Confirm Documentation provided – Identifying if appropriate any other documentation the panel has at their disposal for reference purposes.
- 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.
- If the hearing has been rescheduled, confirm with the employee that they acknowledge why this was the case.
- The Chair of the panel will outline the case, including: The nature of the attendance/ill health issue, impact of absences, the actions/support already implemented/considered, the improvements required, the medical evidence.
- The employee will be given the opportunity to ask any questions in relation to the Panels case
- The employee will then be invited to state his/her case.
- The Panel will ask questions/seek clarification as necessary in relation to the employee’s case.
- The employee to be given an opportunity to make a closing statement.
- Ask if the employee has any additional information they would like to add, not already previously raised at the hearing.
- Hear case based on 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 paragraph 16.5 of procedure for options)
- Advise that the outcome of the hearing will 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.