Disciplinary procedures: initial letter, suspension and investigation
If your employer starts a disciplinary procedure against you they must follow a three-step procedure. The first step is a letter explaining your employer's reason for the action.
The first step in the statutory minimum procedure is a written statement by your employer that sets out the reason or reasons that has led them to consider disciplinary action. It may also explain the reasons why they believe they can discipline you.
Your employer can suspend you while the issue is looked into and if you are, you should be told why you're being suspended. To make it clear that this isn't a punishment, the suspension should be on full pay. When this happens you keep your employment rights and if you don't get the right pay you can claim the money as an 'unlawful deduction from wages'.
You may be told not to talk to other employees, customers and suppliers. If this stops you from defending yourself, it may be grounds for appeal. It is up to you whether you comply with this, but you should remember that your employer may take further disciplinary action if you don't.
Your employer will need to investigate if there's a complaint against you and may ask you for a statement. The investigation should be unbiased, fair and reasonable. It should also seek to establish the facts and not just collect evidence against you. You should be given copies of any information that comes out of the investigation. If you decide you wish to resign from your employment, your employer can still choose to carry on with the disciplinary investigation if they wish.
Where you can go to get help?
The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues for residents of Northern Ireland. You can contact the LRA on 028 9032 1442 from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide free and impartial advice. You can find your local CAB office in the phone book or online.
If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, support and advice from them.