Disciplinary hearings: Is an employer obliged to grant a postponement?

An employee should be allowed at least 3 working days after the date of the letter calling them to a disciplinary hearing to consider the evidence against them, arrange for someone to accompany them to the meeting and if necessary, take legal advice. However, what should an employer do if the employee asks for the disciplinary hearing to be postponed because they have a holiday which was pre – booked or if they have genuine care responsibilities that they cannot alter or they have not been able to obtain legal advice in time or the person that they would like to accompany them to the hearing is unavailable? The answer is that an employer is not under any obligation to grant a postponement but granting one postponement would however be seen as operating a fair and reasonable procedure. An employer will initially select a date for the disciplinary hearing that is convenient to the person who will be chairing it and usually without reference to the employee so if the employee cannot make it for one of the above reasons then the employer should grant a postponement if the basis of the request is a genuine and a valid one. An employer should allow only one postponement unless there are unforeseen and exceptional circumstances such as an accident or a bereavement. When an employer sets a new hearing date, they should make it clear to the employee that if they do not attend the new hearing without good reason, the matter could be dealt with, and a decision made, in their absence.

If you require any employment advice or representation, whether you are an employer or employee, feel free to contact Alan Davidson for a consultation: 01756 692 869.

Alan Davidson,
Partner, Employment