Employment Lawyers for Australian Executives

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+61 3 9653 9123

16th June 2022

Call 1300 789 302

16th June 2022

  • Fast Facts
  •     How to avoid the 10 most common mistakes made by executives
  •     Employment Contracts
  •     Redundancy Entitlements
  •     Bonus Plans
  •     Wrongful Termination and the Law of Contract
  •     Restraint of Trade Covenants
  •     Deductibility of Legal Expenses
  •     The Fair Work Act 2009 – Unfair Dismissal and Implications for Executives
  • Emergency Checklists
  •     10 things you need to know if you are facing possible wrongful termination
  •     10 Basic rules to follow if you are confronted with a disciplinary meeting
  • Expatriates - Employment Law Issues
  •     Australian employment law and the Fair Work Act 2009
  •     Negotiating an Expatriate Employment Agreement
  • Employment Contract Review

10 Basic rules to follow if you are confronted with a disciplinary meeting

Disciplinary meetings are invariably demanding and, in the stress of the moment, it is easy for both the employer and the employee to make mistakes. Indeed, many employers have little or no experience in the conduct of disciplinary meetings. In these circumstances, it is important that you keep your wits about you.

By applying the principles below, you will at least help minimise the risk that you will be exposed to even more serious allegations, make the job of your lawyer easier in representing you and demonstrate to your employer that you are not going to be taken advantage of.

  1. Clarify whether it is an operational meeting or a disciplinary meeting. If you are reassured that it is simply an operational meeting, but it is allowed to develop into a disciplinary meeting, bring the meeting to a close and ask for an adjournment.
  2. Make sure that proper minutes of the meeting are taken by a friend or colleague whose role is not to participate in the meeting but simply to take accurate notes. These minutes need to record the time, date and place of the meeting, who was present (together with position titles) and who said what to whom. They should be prepared as soon as the meeting is over.
  3. Do not agree to the meeting being either audio or video recorded. Be mindful that, notwithstanding your refusal that such devices be used, they may be present anyway.
  4. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into resignation or accepting a demotion/change of duties. If you find yourself being pressured into accepting these sorts of outcomes, seek urgent legal advice.
  5. If any questions are put to you, reply to them, as a properly considered answer may result in the allegations being dropped. However, do not volunteer additional information as this will only prompt further questions. You should say as little as you can consistent with answering the question.The only exception to this rule is if allegations of a criminal nature are being made against you. For example, if you are being accused of stealing or serious assault, you need to be aware that your answers may be forwarded on to the police. In these circumstances, you should decline to answer the question until you have obtained legal advice.
  6. Avoid making any admissions e.g. “I guess I could have been more productive…”. Deflect the question by saying that you need time to reply with a considered response.
  7. Prior to the commencement of the meeting, request in writing a written outline of the agenda and full details of any allegations. If you subsequently receive verbal indication that this will be denied to you, write to the Chairman of the committee noting that your request has been refused.
  8. Don’t assume that, if you are badly treated during the meeting, or if the meeting results in your termination/demotion, you will have access to the unfair dismissal provisions of the Federal Fair Work Act 2009. It may well be that you are locked out of this system. You might well, however, have a cause of action to sue for damages at common law, or have the basis for an Adverse Action/Competition and Consumer Act claim. This will need to be evaluated by your lawyer.
  9. If the meeting becomes particularly heated or abusive, call a halt and demand that it be rescheduled. If you need to walk out of the meeting, you will need to do an urgent memo to the meeting Chairman recording why you walked out, strongly protesting about the treatment you received and seeking his or her assurances that it will not happen again and inviting them to reschedule another meeting.
  10. Insist that the Chairman of the meeting writes to you to confirm the outcome of the meeting. If such a letter is not received, you should write your own letter with legal assistance.