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How to: taking notes during disciplinary hearings

Disciplinary hearings can be complex and it can be difficult to keep track of what is being said, think about your next question and keep an accurate record of it all.  Having an experienced note taker present at the hearing to take notes means that the individual leading the hearing is able to concentrate solely on the process and the explanations the employee provides.

Choosing a note taker

The person you choose must be independent i.e. not connected in any way to any of the issues of the disciplinary.

Why take notes?

The notes will be referred to as an accurate reflection of what was discussed during the hearing. They could be referred to at the appeal hearing and in defending any resulting Employment Tribunal claim. Tribunals often pay close attention to the notes that were taken during the investigation, hearing and appeal.

The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures doesn’t specify what information should be included in formal records of meetings, however, here are some top tips to getting it right:

  • Record the date and time of the hearing
  • Make a note of names and job titles of those present
  • Don’t take verbatim notes there are no need. The notes should be a summary of what was said, capturing the salient points.
  • Concentrate on the facts which either prove or disprove the allegations
  • Make sure you have plenty of margined note paper and place the initials of the person making the point in the margin
  • 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.
  • Recap if you need to
  • Make sure you record in the notes that the employee was offered a companion and whether they declined
  • Record adjournments in the hearing, what time it occurs and what time the hearing is reconvened.
  • Record the time the meeting closes
  • Type up them as soon as possible, while they are still fresh in your mind

Agreeing the Notes

You are under no obligation to seek the employee’s approval it can help demonstrate that you clarified every issue and didn’t miss anything.  If the employee does disagree with any of the content, ask them to write down their comments and attach them to the document.

Distributing the Notes

Again you are under no obligation to send a copy of your notes to the employee but it’s best to send them out with the letter confirming the outcome of the hearing.