Ms Charalambous worked in London as a relationship manager. In January 2019, she emailed a breakdown of all private clients, commission, turnover, assets and other information to her union representative, her lawyer, her own personal email and her brother. The bank suspended Ms Charalambous pending a disciplinary investigation into the confidential client data breach.

Ms Charalambous manager held an investigation meeting with her alone, and another manager held a further two face-to-face disciplinary meetings with both Ms Charalambous and her union representative present. A full report was then sent to Ms Charalambous manager, who then made the decision summarily to dismiss Ms Charalambous without meeting her. Her internal appeal was rejected.

Ms Charalambous raised a number of issues at the Employment Tribunal but failed. However, she was allowed to appeal to the EAT on whether the dismissal had been procedurally fair as Ms Charalambous’ manager had not held a face to face disciplinary hearing before deciding to dismiss her.

The appeal was dismissed.

The EAT confirmed that a fair disciplinary process will normally involve an investigation carried out by one manager and then a separate and distinct disciplinary hearing carried out by an independent decision maker. That hearing should normally involve a meeting between the employee and the decision-maker before the decision is made.

However, the EAT took into account the fact that Ms Charalambous did have two formally recorded meetings where she was accompanied by her union representative and had been afforded the opportunity to set out her case, comment on the evidence and mitigating circumstances, all of which were set out in the minutes of the meetings.

The EAT confirmed that a meeting between the employee and the decision maker is desirable, good practice, and something which many employers’ disciplinary procedures will expressly require. However, what is essential is that the employee is given the chance to comment on the case and present their position.

In Conclusion

This is a useful illustration of how broadly tribunals can interpret the concept of ‘fairness’. What is required is a reasonable process in the circumstances However, what is reasonable can vary dramatically. We strongly advise that all members base any internal disciplinary process on the approved ACAS process, which and follow the process as closely as possible.

https://www.acas.org.uk/disciplinary-procedure-step-by-step

Don’t forget, this advice is general in nature and will need to be tailored to any one particular situation. As an RMI member you have access to the RMI Legal advice line, RMI template documents, including a disciplinary process, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance.

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