How to chair an appeal hearing at work

Chairing an appeal hearing at work can be incredibly stressful. However, this onerous task is made much easier with the correct preparation.

In this blog, we’ll explain the key issues that an employer must address before, during and after an appeal hearing. If you require further guidance and assistance, please get in touch.

Guidance on how to chair an appeal hearing at work

Prior to the hearing it is important to thoroughly review the investigation file. You should be fully conversant with the case. A letter should be sent to the employee informing them of the date and venue of the appeal hearing. (You will need to arrange the venue and room and ensure that a trusted individual is available to take notes.)

Take time to prepare in your own mind how the meeting will be conducted. Think about the ‘running order’ and the key points that you wish to cover. It is worth writing out your opening questions. (Even the most confident of us can go blank from time to time.) Some may find further notes useful to refer to.

Prior to the appeal hearing

  1. Thoroughly review the investigation file
  2. Send a letter to the employee with the date and venue of the appeal hearing
  3. Arrange a room and note taker
  4. Prepare the structure for the hearing
  5. Make a note of key points to cover
  6. Write out opening questions

How to start an appeal hearing at work

Before starting to examine the specific issues surrounding the appeal hearing, as Chairperson, you should introduce all those present and explain why they are there. If the employee has chosen not to be accompanied, it is important to remind them that they can have a witness. Explain that it is an appeal hearing and the meeting will be conducted in accordance with the company’s disciplinary procedure. Ensure that the employee understands. The temptation is to rush – be calm and take your time. A professional start sets the right tone.

taking notes in a meeting

Finally, explain how the appeal hearing will run. Each point will be taken in turn, the evidence will be reviewed and the employee will be allowed to state their case. Check that the employee understands this. You don’t want people talking over one another. (This can be difficult when emotions are running high.)

Checklist

  1. Introduce those present. Explain their role
  2. If applicable, ensure that the employee understands they have the right to be accompanied
  3. Explain it is an appeal hearing and will be conducted in accordance with the company’s disciplinary procedure
  4. Check that the employee understands
  5. Explain how the meeting will run (taking each point in turn)
  6. Check that the employee understands

Issues to address during the appeal hearing

The employee may have sent an appeal email prior to the appeal hearing. If so, talk through in more detail their grounds for appeal. While you are not there to re-hear the case, it is important to go through each paragraph of any correspondence in detail. 

Think carefully how to phrase a question. An open-ended question will garner more information than one that simply requires a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. It is essential that you get to the bottom of the issues. Take time to address each area of concern. Don’t rush on to the next point. Ensure that the key points surrounding an issue are summarised and agreed upon before moving on.

4 tips on chairing an appeal hearing at work

  1. Ask open-ended questions
  2. Ensure you find the underlying cause of each issue
  3. Agree and summarise the key points surrounding each issue
  4. Don’t rush. Be thorough

Chairing an appeal hearing at work

How to end a hearing

It may have been a long, stressful and highly charged meeting, but when the questioning has been completed there are a couple more steps which need to be taken. First, summarise what has been discussed. Next, explain to the employee that you will respond by letter with the outcome in the next 10 working days. Be clear that the decision will be final and binding upon the employee and the company.

Finish by asking if there is anything else the individual would like to say before the hearing is concluded.

Tips for ending an appeal hearing at work

  1. Complete questioning and summarise what has been discussed
  2. Explain that a letter containing the outcome will be sent within 10 working days
  3. Explain that the decision will be final and binding
  4. Ask the employee if there is anything that they would like to say before the hearing is concluded

If you require further advice on how to chair an appeal hearing at work, please get in touch to book a free, 30 minute consultation.

The following free guides may also be of use;

A guide to suspending an employee

How to conduct investigations at work

Disciplinary procedures in the workplace

How to deal with difficult staff