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Note taking in a disciplinary hearing is an important role, but who will do it?

A common concern for Line Managers when conducting disciplinary hearings. The days of an employer having a skilled secretary to take short hand in disciplinary hearings are long gone for many an employer and so the role is left to another trusted individual not directly involved in the proceedings.

Making sure you have a record of what was said in a disciplinary hearing is very desirable, as is the chair being accompanied when the employee could be. The role of note-taker is an important one and the disciplinary hearing notes produced are normally typed up (unless the hand written ones are clear and easy to read) and placed on record.

There is no requirement for notes to be agreed, in fact often that is never going to happen! Allow the notes to be read and if the employee disagrees with any point, allow them to annotate a copy and keep on file along with the original. I would recommend that your notes are shared with the employee on request. Whilst they could have taken their own notes, or had their companion do so, you have nothing to hide so why not share.

The ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievances does not specify how the notes should be taken, so here are my thoughts.

  1. Don’t take verbatim notes there are no need. The notes should be a summary of what was said, capturing the important points. I like to use a good quality margined note pad and to place the initials of the person making the point in the margin and the point on the lines. No need to use every line, just get the notes down. I use pen and have spares, others prefer pencil.
  2. Choose a note taker that is confidential and able to confidently take the notes. If employee objects to the note-taker, establish why and whether reasonable before changing the note taker. They can be the same person who took notes in an investigatory hearing and may also be present in the appeal.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask the note taker if they ‘got that’. A chair can ask the note taker to check they have made a note of a phrase used, or points made by the employee or companion during the hearing. Slow down the note-taker.
  4. Record in the notes that the employee was offered a companion and that they declined if applicable.
  5. Record adjournments in the hearing, what time it occurs and what time the hearing is reconvened.
  6. Record the time the meeting closes.
  7. Sign the notes and if you wish ask the employee and their companion to sign the notes too.
  8. Type up them as soon as possible but keep the hand written notes on file.

If you need any assistance with any aspect of handling a disciplinary hearing, don’t hesitate to call us on 01527 63894.