Appeal hearings: what do I need to know?
If you have attended a disciplinary or grievance hearing you will have the right for appeal if the outcome is not in your favour. Your school will have a disciplinary and grievance policy which will outline the appeals process in your school.
You will need to consider if you want to go through an appeals process which will likely be a stressful situation, however, if you believe your school has overlooked facts and have acted unfairly it will be worthwhile to consider.
In this article, we outline the different steps of the appeal process summarising information from ACAS and Citizens Advice.
Appeal hearings: when should they occur?
The ACAS Code of Practice explains that employees should be given the right to appeal a disciplinary or grievance outcome. If an employer does not give the opportunity to appeal, this could be counted against them if the case goes to employment tribunal.
We have written another article which outlines the employment tribunal process here.
Broadly, you can raise an appeal if you feel:
- Your disciplinary outcome is too severe
- Your grievance outcome is wrong
- Any part of your disciplinary or grievance procedure was wrong or unfair
- You have new evidence to show
This means your school needs to look at your case again to see if:
- The procedure was followed in a fair way
- The outcome is fair
- Hear your appeal
- Carry out another investigation, if necessary
- See if a different outcome is appropriate
- Provide the final outcome in writing as soon as possible
How do I make an appeal?
Check your school’s policy and procedure first. If there are no details, you should raise your appeal in writing to your employer.
Write in a letter or email:
- Why you think your outcome was wrong or unfair (for example, if you felt the person investigating your case did not get enough evidence)
- What you would like to happen next (for example, you could ask if your employer can carry out another investigation or look at the new evidence you have found)
You should do this as soon as possible or within the timeframe in your school’s policy. ACAS recommends 5 days from receiving your outcome as an appropriate amount of time.
ACAS has a selection of useful appeal letter templates which you can use when writing your appeal.
Who carries out the appeal process?
The person who hears your appeal and carries out any further investigation should:
- Not have been previously involved in your case
- Be more senior than anyone who carried out any part of your case previously
Your school could also see if it’s possible to bring in an external person to carry out the appeal.
Preparing for an appeal hearing
After you have raised the appeal, your employer or the person carrying out the appeal process should invite you to an appeal meeting or ‘hearing’. They should do this as soon as possible and tell you in writing:
- the date, time and place of the hearing
- About your right to be accompanied
By law, an employee or worker can bring a relevant person (‘companion’) with them to both disciplinary and grievance appeal hearings. This is called ‘the right to be accompanied’.
Having a companion can be helpful as it means they can:
- give you support
- be a neutral person to observe
- speak for you if you need them to
You should tell your employer as soon as possible who you want to be your companion so they can make the arrangements in good time.
What you can do in the appeal hearing?
The appeal hearing is the chance for you to state your case and ask your employer to look at a different outcome.
It could help for you to:
- explain why you think the outcome is wrong or unfair
- say where you felt the procedure was unfair
- ask questions about the parts of the procedure you felt were unfair
- present new evidence, if you have it
- listen to your employer’s point of view
- refer to your school policy or the ACAS Code
- ask how your school has dealt with any similar cases before
What your school should do in the hearing
In an appeal hearing, the person carrying out the appeal process should:
- introduce everyone, explaining why they are there if necessary
- explain the purpose of the meeting, how it will be conducted and what powers the person hearing the appeal has
- ask you why you are appealing
- look at new evidence, if there is any
- after discussing the points, summarise them and end the hearing
They will then need to consider if:
- the original outcome was fair
- they need to change the original outcome, if it’s clear it was not right
- a new investigation is needed to find out more before making a final decision
Carrying out a new investigation
After hearing your appeal, your employer or the person they have assigned might decide they need to carry out another investigation.
This would be in cases where they need to:
- find or look at new evidence
- re-check the evidence they found
- talk to the same people (‘witnesses’) again
- find and talk to new witnesses
If so, they would need to follow the steps in the investigation stage.
The person carrying out the appeal investigation should then make a written, confidential report. Your school should show you this report.
Getting the appeal outcome
Your employer should tell you the appeal outcome as soon as possible in writing, including:
- the reason for their decision
- whether this is the final decision
If you are not satisfied with your appeal outcome your next step could be proceeding to employment tribunal. If you are an Edapt subscriber we will be able to support you through this process.
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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.