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Everything you need to know about Appeal Meetings

Most managers are aware that they need to offer “the right to appeal” following a disciplinary or grievance decision, but do you know why, and what process should you follow?

Employees have a statutory right to Appeal a decision that has been taken by their employer in a disciplinary or grievance meeting if they believe it to be unfair or unjust. If the Practice does not give employees the opportunity to appeal, this could be held against them in an employment tribunal.

Why would they appeal a disciplinary decision?

The reason to appeal could be a number of reasons including more evidence coming to light if an employee believes the sanction has been too harsh or the manager hasn’t taken their complaint seriously etc. There are no restrictions on the potential grounds for appealing, but it could include the following;

  • New evidence has been made available
  • The sanction imposed was disproportionate or too severe
  • Not consistent with the response to similar misconduct from another employee
  • There was a failure of the process (e.g. not enough time to prepare for the meeting, insufficient evidence, or the employer didn’t follow its own disciplinary process)

Usually, an employer will offer the right to appeal as part of the disciplinary or grievance outcome letter, with between 5 to 7 days for the employee to appeal the decision. They should be asked to appeal the decision in writing and write why they believe the decision to be unfair or unjust.

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I know I should offer an Appeal, but who will hear it?

Ideally, a manager who was not part of the disciplinary/ grievance process so far. The idea of the Appeal is that an impartial manager looks over the case and either agrees, partially agrees or does not agree with the decision made in the disciplinary/grievance hearing by the first manager.

The Appeal Meeting should be heard by somebody with seniority in the business, such as a Senior Partner or the Practice Manager in larger practices. It should be considered right from the very start of dealing with a disciplinary/grievance, who will be suitable to hear the Appeal Meeting, should the case get to that stage as it can ensure a smoother and quicker process.

If you have a smaller practice, it is possible for the same manager to carry out the Investigation, Disciplinary and Appeal, but this is not recommended as it is unlikely to be impartial/fair, so it is best practice to at least use one of the Partners for the Appeal.

What should an Appeal Hearing look like?

An Appeal Meeting is a formal meeting. This means that you need to plan in a very similar way as you would for the disciplinary or grievance hearing itself. This will mean ensuring you have a private room, a note-taker and ideally a plan for the meeting.

The amount of planning you do before a meeting will very much depend on your preferred style, however, there should always be some sort of plan, whether that be direct questions to ask or simply what you need to understand or establish before the end of the meeting.

Some ideas might be:

  • Introduce everyone in the meeting
  • Explain to the employee how the meeting will work and what powers the person hearing the appeal has
  • Understanding why the employee has appealed
  • Understanding what they would like to get from the appeal
  • Summarise the meeting and end

It might be that as the Appeals Officer you can make a decision there and then based on the evidence you have seen what the outcome of the appeal should be. Do you agree with the previous decision made? Do you disagree, or partially agree?

It might be more suitable to allow a day to consider the appeal hearing and perhaps even carry out a further investigation if new evidence was raised in the meeting, or if there was a claim that the initial investigation had not been exhaustive enough.

Once a decision has been reached, the employee should be notified in writing. It is also good practice to complete an Appeal Outcome Report, which will detail the decision-making process and ensure the employee has full transparency of the case (you can find templates for the Appeal Outcome Letter and Report in the FPM Policies and Procedures Library).

Once an Appeal decision has been made, there is no further right to appeal.

For further help with Appeal Meetings contact hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk or visit the Policies Library for templates, procedures, and other supporting documents.

 

 

 

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