Blog«Know Your Rights - What to do if you receive a disciplinary?
Know Your Rights - What to do if you receive a disciplinary?
3 June 2020
31 January 2023
7.45 minutes


What is a disciplinary meeting?

A disciplinary meeting is when the employer formally requests an employee to attend a meeting to discuss work performance; for example, to discuss something inappropriate that the employer believes the employee has done or a complaint that has been made against the employee.

  • Always make sure you have a clear understanding of the purpose of the meeting
  • Always ask that any allegations be provided to the member in writing 

Who can represent you in a disciplinary meeting?

A HWU Delegate can attend a disciplinary meeting with a member, if requested by the member. A HWU Organiser may also attend a disciplinary meeting with you, if given sufficient notice.

What to do during a disciplinary meeting?

A member may call for a break at any time during the meeting, should either the member or the HWU Delegate wish to discuss matters without management. You should also:

  • Seek supporting documents/evidence be provided
  • Clearly re-iterate and note any agreements on a course of action agreed to during the meeting
  • Take notes
  • Keep language professional at all times
  • Agree on terms to move the issue forward, sum up items for follow up and ensure there are timelines for further action that are agreed by each party

It is ok if a resolution is not made at the end of the meeting. Be sure to make a time for another meeting and seek further advice from the HWU. If at any stage of the process you are unsure of how you should proceed, it is your right to seek that any discussion is postponed until you can seek further advice.

How can you ensure a fair disciplinary meeting?

The principals of natural justice and procedural fairness must be adhered to in a disciplinary process. This means that the member must be:

  • Advised of their right to have representation including union representation
  • Advised purpose of the meeting
  • Given information or a summary of the allegations in writing

It is also important to have a copy of the employers’ policy and procedures and ensure that these policy and procedures are upheld.

Do I have to attend a disciplinary meeting?

An employer has every right to ask a member to attend a meeting, and the member should follow this instruction.However, this does not negate the members right to refuse to talk about any issues which they have not been made aware of in writing.

What if natural justice/procedural fairness doesn’t happen?

If a member is not afforded natural justice, they or the HWU Delegate (on behalf of the member) are within their rights to refuse to discuss any issues which they have not been given the details to prior to the meeting and to request that the proper processes be followed.

Summary and further tips to get the best outcome from a disciplinary meeting:

  •  If the matter is to become part of a formal process, an Employee must receive notice of any meeting in writing - contact your Delegate or Organiser immediately to get them to represent you at the meeting. If they can’t make it, ask for the meeting to be moved to another time - you have the right to ask for this.
  • At any time the meeting may be paused for the Employee to discuss a matter with the Union representative, or if they need to have a break because of emotional needs.
  • If there is no evidence (or witness/es) to back up an allegation, the allegation is based on one word against another or “hear-say” and should not be pursued. If there are witnesses, insist on seeing a copy of a written statement, even if they black out the witness’ name (redacting). If they do not provide a copy of the witness statements ask that the meeting be adjourned.
  • Keep all answers short and to the point. If the allegation is false, simply say ‘That is not correct’. If there is a misunderstanding, explain in a calm and collected way, focussing on facts. NEVER admit to something that has been alleged without seeking advice from the Union.
  • Don’t answer questions they haven’t asked.
  • Termination must be approved by an Executive Director or the Chief Executive Officer. The decision to terminate should not be made during a final meeting. When there has been Serious Misconduct (very inappropriate behaviour such as putting Employees or patients at risk of harm, physical abuse, not following important instructions etc.) the Employer may terminate a person’s employment immediately (summary dismissal). If this happens, contact the Union immediately on (03) 9341 3300 to ensure that it isn’t an unfair dismissal.

It is important to remember that the Union is here to help, but has to abide by laws and workplace legislation. If an employee has clearly done the wrong thing and it is proven, it is very difficult for the union to reverse a decision. Please be careful in the workplace to not give employers any due cause to discipline you. However, if you are ever in need of union assistance for a disciplinary meeting, always call the HWU on (03) 9341 3300 in the first instance.