Must a disciplinary or grievance hearing be held during an employee's normal working hours if these are outside normal office hours?
There are no statutory requirements in relation to the timing of disciplinary or grievance hearings. The Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures recommends that meetings should be held "without unreasonable delay" and that employers and employees "should make every effort to attend the meeting".
The contract of employment may allow the employer to require the employee to attend work outside his or her normal hours. Even if there is contractual provision for this, if the employee works outside normal office hours and requests a meeting during his or her normal working hours, the employer should consider the employee's reasons. For example, he or she may have difficulty attending a meeting during normal office hours due to caring responsibilities. The employer should attempt to accommodate the employee's preference where this is reasonable, for example by asking a manager who works similar hours to the employee to conduct the meeting. If the employee cannot attend the meeting during normal office hours, and the employer cannot make arrangements for a meeting outside office hours, the employer may have no choice but to go ahead without the employee present, but an employment tribunal could take this into account when looking at the fairness of any resulting dismissal.
If the contract of employment does not require the employee to attend work outside his or her normal working hours, the employer would be in breach of contract if it required him or her to attend a meeting during normal office hours.
If an employee is required to attend a meeting outside his or her normal working hours, the employer should consider allowing the employee time off in lieu.