Employee - Disciplinary Meeting
I am an employee and I have been called to a disciplinary meeting. What can I do?
You have certain rights under New Zealand law with regards to disciplinary meetings. These basic rights are:
- You are allowed to bring a support person with you,
- You need to be given reasonable notice of the meeting,
- You must be advised what the agenda of the meeting is,
- To be provided copies of all the information that is being considered as part of the process,
- The possible consequences of the meeting.
Most employers, but definitely not all of them, will follow the correct process as per the Employment Relations Act.
The disciplinary meeting is an investigation into an alleged incident whereby the employer is giving you the opportunity to explain your version of events in order for you to defend yourself against the suggested allegations. Once the meeting is at an end, the employer will consider what you have expressed and will make their decision. This is usually then communicated to the employee by way of a proposed outcome for the employee to comment on before the final decision is made. However, unless you ask for a proposed outcome the employer may go straight to delivering their final outcome.
There are decisions you can make at the meeting. These will vary depending on your particular circumstances but, in general, there are two main options. The first is that you will either explain your actions to demonstrate to the employer that you have not done anything wrong, or try and amend your ways so that your employer benefits from you remaining in their employment. The other is that you decide you no longer want to work there, for whatever reason.
Should you wish to continue your employment, you will need to either successfully defend the allegations so the employer accepts that you have not done anything wrong or discuss and agree on an action plan with your employer in good faith, when they give you their decision at a subsequent meeting (provided, of course, that their decision is not to terminate your employment). Should they terminate your employment, then you do have legal rights depending on the circumstances.
Should you decide, during the disciplinary meeting, that you do not want to continue working for the employer then you have various options. You can attempt to agree on an exit package that will result in the creation of a written agreement for you and the employer to sign. The employer will probably want to send this document off to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for mediator signing in order to make the agreement full and final. In other words, once that agreement is signed by the mediator, you cannot subsequently lodge a personal grievance with the Employment Relations Authority.
Should you not be able to come to an agreement with your employer, then your options are to either stay employed or resign. By resigning you give up about 90% of your rights as an employee. Raising a successful personal grievance against an employer, after having resigned, is extremely difficult.
Another issue with resigning is that unless it is a negotiated resignation then there is nothing to stop your employer terminating your employment during your notice period.
We are a solutions focused organisation. Yes, the past does come into it, however, we are future focused, as that is what counts. What is the best result moving forward for all concerned? This is where we will help you. Our aim is to help you negotiate a solution that gives a clear path forward. By doing this, we save everyone time and the possible costs of going to the Employment Relations Authority.
Employers look at the total cost of all the components when trying to resolve an employment situation. The less they have to spend on their lawyers, their own time and the Employment Relations Authority, the more they are likely to pay to settle or resolve the situation with you – or, alternatively, what they are prepared to pay for your further training.
We can help you at these meeting by acting as your support person by protecting your rights as an employee, and consequently, by possibly maximising your position. Please call us on 0800 HELP ME (0800 435 763) to discuss the details, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org