Disciplinary Meeting, what happens when your Employer calls you in.
Currently we are receiving a lot of phone calls regarding attending disciplinary meetings. These can be anxious times. You may be suspended, or stood down. Do you have a job? or don’t have a job?. Have I been dismissed, but I just don’t know it. This article is here to provide some answers, the goal is to not be dismissed, to get back to work. Keep that career on track. Failing all this is to secure a exit package
A Disciplinary meeting can be stressful Can i have some advice please
Now that the employer has the upper hand due to the high uncertainty in the labor market. Many employer’s are taking every advantage to reduce labor cost (read some of my other blog articles). Employees are now being subjected to increased, scrutiny, KPI’s, performance improvement plans. In turn investigations, warning and meetings, which in many cases result in dismissal. (therefore replaced in many cases with a cheaper worker).
A false disciplinary meeting is another tool the employer can you use to target you, bully you, stress you. Many employees have already been investigated without their knowledge. Many employees are not aware of their rights during the investigation. False accusations are thrown at you to test you. To find out what you know. Or the false accusations are simply that, false. They were always just that.
Under no circumstances resign
When we receive these calls, the first thing I say to everybody is under no circumstances resign. That there is a very strict 21 days from the day you are told of your dismissal, to lodge a claim with the Fair work Commission. (not from when you get paid out or receive your dismissal letter). (A loosely enforced 12 months to lodge a discrimination claim with the relevant body).
Most employees know if they can do / perform their job, whether its serious misconduct. The question is are the expectations of the employer is reasonable or not, when they are called in for a meeting. There is a perception in the workplace that’s you get three warnings and you’re out. This is the general approach, adopted by the large supermarket chains. If you don’t resign, make sure you are getting paid suspension other wise the employer may leave you in abeyance for months on end.
Valid reason and the process must be fair
However it does not necessarily apply in other industries, or as per your employment contact. What the Fair work Commissions through its decisions state it must be a valid reason. A process that is fair, given the individual circumstances.
When your called into a disciplinary meeting, ask if you need a witness, it the answer is yes, make sure you take one, slow down the process if you cannot get one within the timeline for the meeting. If the answer is no, but you feel that the meeting is important, your job may be at risk, or it all seems a bit odd, insist on a witness.
Make sure your witness behaves themselves, it all about you, not them, some witness like to bully, “showoff”, make out there lawyers. This, instead of helping you, opens the door and give the employer additional ammunition to dismiss or discipline you.
What do I say in a disciplinary meeting? Be open and transparent
The way I put it is this, “Plan A” of the Employer is to dismiss you (particularly if your suspended. They are looking for reasons so you don’t come back, not for reasons to get you back). In many meetings the employee has the answers, the employer then think Ok, I’m stuck, they then move onto “Plan B”. “You lied to us in the meeting”. “You wouldn’t answer the questions”. (surprisingly some employees go into meeting and go no comment like on Law and Order, CSI on TV. Employees are obligated to participate in a genuine and meaningful way to maintain their employment), “your given is different answer today to what you said last week”, “you withheld information”. You swore at us.
Can I make a secret recording of a disciplinary meeting?
It is becoming increasingly common and very easy for people to make secret recordings of conversations on their mobile phones or smartwatches. Technology is progressively finding its way into employment matters with employees secretly making recordings. You should not record your employer without their permission.
In a recent unfair dismissal claim at the Fair work Australia (FWC) part of the employee’s complaint was that the notes taken by the Company during various formal meetings. Both before and after dismissal, only included information the Company deemed relevant to its case. Apparently, all other aspects of the discussions that had taken place were ignored. The notes, the employee therefore argued, were inadequate for the purpose they were intended for and demonstrated a lack of professionalism on the part of the employer.
Preparing for a disciplinary meeting
Your employer should formally notify you of your disciplinary meeting in writing. This does not always happen. From that moment, you can get the ball rolling on your defense.
Your meeting request should include:
- The allegations made against you
- Supporting evidence for the allegations
- Possible sanctions/implications
- A breakdown of the disciplinary processs
Give yourself enough time to prepare
You are entitled to ask to reschedule your disciplinary meeting. If you feel backed into a corner or you know you won’t be able to gather your defence in time, ask to postpone the meeting.
A disciplinary meeting is often bound up in emotion. You and your employer must rise above them. It is a professional meeting, not an attack or a witch hunt. They must act reasonably, which includes giving you a reasonable amount of time to get your arguments and evidence together.
Outline your argument
You should be given a chance to raise any issues and defend your case. To make sure you cover everything, write some notes.
Break down your notes into sections that cover:
- The allegations against you
- Evidence you have
- The evidence they have
- Any tangential issues relevant to the hearing
If you are being called for a disciplinary meeting because of your conduct, have you actually done what they are alleging? Your capability is being called into question, consider whether you have received the training you need to do your job. If the meeting is regarding your long term sickness, is there anything your employer can do to get you back to work? This might be in an alternative capacity or with adjustments to your job.
Bring your own evidence
You are entitled to provide evidence in support of your case. This could be documents such as letters from your GP, emails asking for training, or examples of how your employer has dealt with similar problems in the past.
You can also ask people to provide statements in support of your case. Your employer is not allowed to victimize them if they do. You are not allowed to force people to help you, but if they are prepared to help, they are protected by law against discrimination later or adverse action latter
Be truthful, show contrition
Answer all the questions, in a transparent way, be truthful, show contrition if the circumstances require it, do not apologize if you haven’t done anything wrong. Some employees apologize just hoping they keep their job, and the Employer seizes on this to dismiss them.
Conclusion to Disciplinary Meeting, what happens when your Employer calls you in.
Its hard for me to give any detailed commentary or specific advice as everybody’s circumstances are different. Your welcome to call us, get advice. Don’t think they (the employer) cannot survive without you, that your smarter than them, I’ve got that job until I win tattslotto or retire. Companies are dictatorships, they are not democracies. Where everybody gets a vote, even government departments have someone at the top who takes the decision.
I’m not saying put up with rubbish from your employer. Stand up for yourself, keep your self respect, its how you do it that matters. Do not become abusive, remember the bigger picture is to keep your job or at the very least get a good payout.
I hope this blog helps. We are A Whole New Approach P/L. we are not lawyers, but the nations leading workplace advisors. Any thing and everything to do with workplace investigations, workers rights, casual rights. AWNA are the experts, make the call, its free, prompt, and honest, we keep it real. Unfair dismissals, forced to resign, falsely made redundant, call on 1800 333 666