Communication Workers Union 
Meridian Branch

Union Office, British Telecom, Becket House, New Dover Road,

Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3BB

Tel: 01227 760311 Fax: 01227 815929 e-mail:

Fact Finding Interviews and the Discipline Procedure

If you suddenly find yourself in a Fact Finding meeting with your or another manager then you almost certainly will not have been warned. A manager will come out to site to visit you, they may or may not tell you they are coming but will almost certainly not tell you why they want to see you? Likewise if you get called to their or another office you almost certainly will not be told why before you get there.

The manager MUST tell you that `this is a Fact Finding Interview’…  Fact  Finding interviews must be conducted as per the associated Discipline Procedure document. You should note that there is no legal right to be accompanied to a Fact Finding, so what are your rights? We cannot advise you what or what not to say that is up to you, however you have the right to Remain Silent, you can also say that you wish to co-operate but that you wish to seek advice before answering any questions.

You may be asked to provide a Written Statement and must be given a reasonable amount of time to consider your response, not just an hour or two. We strongly advise that you take professional advice e.g. contact your Union Branch office or Head Office without delay.

Discipline procedure


This procedure applies to all BT employees but does not apply to people working on a contract or agency basis.

Whilst at work BT people are expected to behave in a manner set out in BTs Conduct Standards guidance. The procedure seeks to encourage improvements from individuals whose conduct is unsatisfactory.

Roles & responsibilities

The purpose of a disciplinary hearing is to ensure that all evidence pertinent to the charge against the individual is taken into consideration. It is therefore essential that all participants in the hearing are able to carry out their roles under this procedure, and to contribute in the appropriate way. It is in the best interests of all involved that both the company’s view of things and the individual’s response to that view are fully understood.

The individual

Individuals have a responsibility to abide by BT's Conduct Standards guidance.

Right to be accompanied - The individual’s ‘Friend’

Individuals have the right to be accompanied by a 'friend' to discipline hearings. The 'friend' can be another BT worker, or an accredited representative from a trade union. The role of the friend will be to:

• Support the individual throughout the discipline hearing, and act as a witness to the proceedings

• If the individual wishes them to, a 'friend' can address the hearing, put the individuals case, sum up the case, respond on the individuals behalf to any view expressed at the hearing , confer with the individual, ask questions, and participate in the hearing.

• They will however not be able to answer questions on the individuals' behalf unless invited to do so by the investigating manager.

The first line manager

Has a responsibility to:

• Hold the disciplinary hearing in cases of minor misconduct

• Where the HR Case Management Service Centre (CMSC) Team are not in attendance, record the meeting using BT Meetme and send a copy to the employee and the HR CMSC Team.

• Ensure that their people are aware of BT's Conduct rules and standards and that disciplinary action may be taken should these be breached.

Inform the HR CMSC Team of any potential disciplinary issue which arises by raising a case on the BT People System @ and seek guidance from them before taking any action.

• Inform Line Human Resources of all gross misconduct cases.

• Ensure they uphold the principles of integrity and objective investigation and act within the timescales.

• Inform the individual what level of disciplinary meeting they are attending and the process to be followed.

• Decide, on the basis of all the evidence pertinent to the case, whether disciplinary action is justified.

Line managers who fail to follow the procedure for investigating and concluding discipline cases may themselves be subject to disciplinary action.

Second line managers

Has a responsibility to:

• Hear cases of serious/gross misconduct, including repeated offences.

• Where the HR CMSC Team are not in attendance, record the meeting using BT Meetme and send a copy to the employee and the HR CMSC Team.

• Ensure they uphold the principles of integrity and objective investigation and act within the timescales.

• Inform the individual what level of disciplinary meeting they are attending and the process to be followed.

• Decide, on the basis of all the evidence pertinent to the case, whether disciplinary action is justified and, if so, what disciplinary sanction should be applied

Appeal manager

Has a responsibility to:

Hold the appeal hearing.

• Where the HR CMSC Team are not in attendance, record the meeting using BT Meetme and send a copy to the employee and the HR CMSC Team.

• Objectively review any points made by the individual or their friend/Union representative.

• Carry out further investigation if necessary.

• Either uphold or reverse the decision or vary penalties.

• Provide the individual with a response to any points made on appeal and with an explanation of the decision.


Are to :

• Assist line managers in dealing with discipline cases at all levels and stages.

• Supply standard letter formats to line managers as required.

• Provide line managers with guidance and consistency regarding the level of warning or sanction.

• Ensure the case has been reviewed professionally in a timely, consistent and fair manner - ensuring that the integrity of the discipline procedure is maintained.

• Attend the serious disciplinary hearings either remotely via conference call or face to face where authorised.

BT Security

• May be asked to provide evidence or assist in investigations to establish the facts.

• Will comply with procedures outlined in "Alleged Offences against BT" when conducting interviews as part of the disciplinary process.

Equal opportunities

The discipline procedure must be applied fairly in accordance with BT's equal opportunities policy.



Alleged misconduct will be dealt with according to its gravity and the action likely to be needed as a corrective measure. It is essential to establish the facts before considering moving to the more formal stages of the procedure.


Line managers are recommended to undertake the ACAS CBT Discipline & Grievance training package found @

The following BT CBT training package is also available (free of charge) via the on Route2Learn.system found @

NETg Course: Correcting Performance Problems: Disciplining Employees E46101

Investigating managers may also consult the HR Case Management Service Centre Team (CMSC) for further advice where necessary.

Fact finding

When a disciplinary matter arises, the line manager should promptly establish the facts and, where appropriate, obtain statements from any available witnesses. Where it is necessary to interview an alleged offender to establish the facts there is no legal right to be accompanied as this is not a disciplinary hearing. However, if requested managers should consider whether it is appropriate to have a friend present to accompany the individual.

The HR CMSC Team should be contacted in these circumstances for further advice; in the first instance this should be via an enquiry raised on the BT People System @ The line manager will confirm to the individual that they are attending a Disciplinary Fact Finding Interview and that the purpose of the meeting is to establish the facts and that no decision will be made during the meeting.

It is essential to keep a detailed record of the meeting for later reference. Having investigated all the facts the manager should decide whether to drop the matter; arrange informal coaching or counselling, or arrange for the matter to be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. Line Managers should raise an on-line discipline case @ for the HR CMSC Team to view. They should then discuss their proposed decision with the HR CMSC Team. Line managers should not consult their senior management for advice as this may prejudice a case should disciplinary action be necessary.

Where there is evidence of a criminal act line managers should also refer to "Alleged Offences against BT" and contact BT Security.

Informal treatment of disciplinary matters

Minor cases of misconduct can be dealt with best through coaching, counselling or informal advice rather than immediate adoption of the discipline procedure. If advice is required on whether the issue is appropriate to be dealt with at this level, in the first instance this should be raised on an enquiry on the BT People System @ it is decided to proceed informally a two way discussion should be held with the individual.

It should be made clear that this is not part of the formal disciplinary process. Any shortcomings in their conduct should be pointed out and improvement encouraged. The individual should be given the opportunity to put forward an explanation for the misconduct. Any criticism should be constructive with the emphasis on finding ways in which the individual can improve.

A note should be made in the individual's one to one notes that a discussion regarding the area of concern took place and of any action agreed. The individual should be advised that re-occurrence of the same offence or the occurrence of another minor offence may result in formal action.

Formal disciplinary hearing

It is possible to seek support and advice from the HR CMSC Team by issuing an on-line enquiry or case at an earlier stage, but if this has not already been done a case should be issued on the on-line BT People System @ prior to the fact finding stage

The individual must be invited to attend a disciplinary hearing. They can in addition supply a written submission, to explain their actions and any mitigating circumstances, at the earliest opportunity.

Individuals must be informed of the allegations against them in writing and provided with all relevant evidence, including witness statements and fact finding notes, before any hearing.

All evidence must be treated in confidence. The interview is to be arranged at a mutually convenient time and venue.

The individual should be given notice of their rights under the discipline procedure, including the statutory right to be accompanied, given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses (subject to reasonable advance notice being given) and the possible disciplinary action that may be taken and the possible disciplinary action that may be taken.

Where an employee is persistently unable or unwilling to attend a disciplinary meeting without good cause BT shall be entitled to make a decision on the evidence available.

Where the allegation is regarded as minor misconduct the disciplinary hearing should be held by the first line manager, for example persistent lateness. However if the allegation is considered to be more serious or it a repeated misconduct then the hearing will be by the second line manager or nominated equivalent in exceptional circumstances. For more serious disciplinary hearings the HR CMSC Team will attend to take notes.

Gross misconduct

Offences which constitute Gross Misconduct are those which result in a serious breach of contractual terms and are likely to result in dismissal with or without notice. This might include the following which is not exhaustive:

• theft, fraud and deliberate falsification of records.

• corruption relating to gifts or hospitality.

• physical violence.

• gross bullying, harassment or discrimination.

• deliberate damage to BT/customer property.

• serious insubordination.

• misuse of BT's property or name likely to cause detriment of BT's reputation as a fair-trading company.

• bringing BT into serious disrepute.

• serious on duty traffic offences.

• serious incapability whilst on duty due to alcohol or drugs.

• gross negligence which causes or might cause unacceptable loss, damage or injury

• serious infringement of health and safety rules including failure of alcohol/drugs test when testing is required by the customer.

• serious breach of confidence including Data Protection.

• serious breach of BT's Security policy including intranet, internet and email misuse and unauthorised access of computer systems.

• serious criminal offences against BT "Alleged Offences against BT"

• serious criminal offences not arising from BT employment but which make the individual unsuitable for BT employment (Employees accused of Criminal Offences)

• serious misuse of communications media including mobile phones & charge cards.

After the fact finding stage if it is considered that the alleged offence may constitute Gross Misconduct the individual will be asked for a written explanation of their actions. This is to be supplied within the current working day wherever practicable. Where BT Security conduct an investigation interview a tape recording may be taken. No written explanation will be required, in accordance with "Alleged Offences against BT"

If after consideration of the written explanation and other evidence it is considered that there are disciplinary charges to answer the individual will be invited to attend a Disciplinary Hearing with their second line manager. They will receive written notification of the alleged charges as part of the invitation to attend. This letter will also detail the right to be accompanied and the possible disciplinary actions. Individuals should be provided with any evidence including witness statements to be used at their interview. This must be provided in good time. At the hearing the individual will have the opportunity to put forward any further facts, explanations or mitigating circumstances which they wish to be taken into account, given a reasonable opportunity to ask questions, present evidence and call relevant witnesses (subject to reasonable advance notice being given) and the possible disciplinary action that may be taken.

Where an employee is persistently unable or unwilling to attend a disciplinary meeting without good cause BT shall be entitled to make a decision on the evidence available.

Precautionary suspension

In certain circumstances, for example in cases of alleged gross misconduct, where the relationship between BT and the individual may have broken down or where it is considered there are risks to BT's property, the individual or responsibilities to another party, consideration should be given to a brief period of suspension with pay. Any period of suspension should be as short as possible and kept under review. The individual should be told why they are being suspended, and that they will be informed of the outcome of the investigation as soon as possible. The outcome may result in an invitation to attend a disciplinary hearing. Suspension is not to be used as a sanction before the disciplinary hearing and decision.

Individuals may be suspended without pay following arrest, admission of criminal action, being placed on bail or imprisoned, for insubordination or for being drunk at work.

Disciplinary action

At all formal stages of the procedure the production of interview notes and a rationale are the responsibility of the manager. In notifying a decision the manager will enclose a copy of the hearing notes, giving the individual 3 days to express any disagreement in writing, the rationale and decision letter outlining the decision, the implications of that decision and any rights of recourse.


On completion of the disciplinary hearing the disciplining manager will consider whether the charge made against the individual has been proved. If it has the manager will decide what level of warning is to be given. The HR CMSC Team will be able to give assistance and guidance.

Formal oral warning -

In the case of minor misconduct managers can issue a formal oral warning. The individual should be told the reason for the warning in private and that it is the first level of disciplinary action and that further similar misconduct may result in further action. A note should be kept in the individual's file and recorded on the BT People System. It will be deleted after six months.

Written warning -

if the infringement is more serious or a repetition of misconduct a written warning should be given. The warning should include details of misconduct or change in behaviour required. It should also inform the individual of the consequences of further action if there is a repeated misconduct or no change in behaviour. A written warning will be valid for 12 months and may be taken into consideration if any further issues arise within that period. The warning will be recorded on The BT People System and will be referred to when pay progression/managerial pay review, promotion or job changes are under consideration. It will be deleted after 12 months.

Final written warning -

final written warning can be given if the offence is serious enough in its own right or if there is a failure to improve or change behaviour during the term of a prior warning. The warning must give details of the complaint, the sanctions to be taken and a warning that a further offence or failure to change or improve the behaviour during a stated timescale may lead to further sanctions or dismissal. The stated timescale is normally 12 months but in exceptional circumstances may be extended to 18 months. During this period the warning will be referred to when pay progression/managerial pay review, promotion or job changes are under consideration. A record of the warning should be retained within the individual's personal file and on the BT People System for a period of three years. After the stated period (12/18 months) has expired the warning will be referred when promotion or job changes are under consideration and a further offence within the three year period may lead to additional sanctions being applied.


Sanctions may be applied when an individual is given a written warning. These are:

• Recovery of losses (where loss or theft of equipment has occurred).

• Loss of pay progression award or managerial pay review.

• Transfer of role or location, which may include loss of allowances.

• Re-assignment (downgrade).

• Reduction in pay, including the removal from work which attracts allowances.

Dismissal (with or without notice)

Where gross misconduct has occurred or where the individual repeated misconduct despite formal warnings they can be dismissed. The individual should normally be informed of the decision and the reasons for it in writing within 5 working days. However this may be extended to allow for further investigations to be made and for full and reasonable consideration of the circumstances. The letter will also state their last day of service, the appropriate period of notice (or pay in lieu) and information on the right of appeal.

Dismissal with notice is normally given in the case of repeated misconduct. However for gross misconduct dismissal without notice (summary dismissal) will normally be given.

If dismissal is with notice, the employee would normally be expected to take ANY PRE-BOOKED or outstanding annual leave within the notice period AND ANY ADDITIONAL REQUESTS TO TAKE FURTHER ANNUAL LEAVE SHOULD BE MADE TO THE LINE MANAGER IN THE NORMAL WAY.

If dismissal is without notice, arrangements should be made for any outstanding annual leave to be paid back. See: for more details.

Summary of penalties


Warning type

Valid for

Retained for

Minimum Authority

Sanction Available


6 months

6 months

1st LM



12 months

12 months

1st LM/2nd LM


Final Written

12- 18 months

3 years

2nd LM



Records kept for 5 yrs

2nd LM


Right of appeal

Individuals must be informed in writing of their right of appeal at each stage of the formal procedure. This must include details of to whom they should address the appeal and their right to be accompanied. The intention to appeal must be logged with the HR CMSC Team within 5 working days of the disciplinary action being notified. The individual must be invited to attend an appeal hearing. They can in addition supply a written submission to support their appeal. Written submissions should be received within 15 working days of logging the intention to appeal. Oral representations by either the individual or their union representative will be heard at a date convenient to all parties. Appeals must be heard by an appropriate individual with no prior connection to the case - usually a more senior manager in the line.

Individuals have no right to a second appeal. However if they can show that they have been unfairly treated under the formal process or can cite factors not previously taken into account that cast doubt of the appropriateness of the decision, they may be able to apply for a High Level review under the Grievance Procedure. if their case started before 13 May 2009. With effect from 13 May 2009, the High Level review will cease to operate.

Deferment of action

Where an individual intends to appeal against the decision no penalties will be actioned unless the decision was dismissal. Where an appeal against dismissal is successful any gap in employment will be treated as if it were a period of precautionary suspension with pay.

Discipline procedure flowchart. (see downloads)

Forms and standard letters

The HR CMSC Team will supply line managers with template letter formats.


Frequently asked questions.

Q. Can I bring a non BT person to accompany me to a Discipline hearing?

A. You are allowed to be accompanied by either another BT worker, or an accredited representative from a trade union. You may however seek advice from an outside person.

Q. If I feel I have been unfairly treated by the Discipline Procedure what is my right of appeal?

A. You may use the appeal process which is outlined within the procedure.

Q. What happens in cases involving officials of recognised unions?

A. The case would be discussed with the Union Headquarters or other Union representative depending on the status of the individual concerned. Should the issue relate to the representative in their Union capacity managers should refer to the National Agreement on Facilities for Recognised Unions.

Q. Are line managers allowed to search an individual's property as part of the investigation?

A. Managers can search BT property eg van, computer, desk in the course of the investigation. However managers must obtain the permission of individuals to search any private property stored on BT premises or before searching any BT property which is provided for an individual's private use, eg a locker. Should such items require searching the owner or a representative of the owner should be present.

Q. What mitigating circumstances should be considered by the line manager?

A. Account should be taken of the individual's current conduct record, health and welfare. It may also be relevant to review the individuals general record, position and length of service.

Q. What happens when someone is absent from work when the disciplinary issue is raised?

A. The individual must normally return to work before disciplinary action can commence. However if the absence occurs after the fact finding interview consideration should be given to the seriousness of the offence and the health of the individual. (An OHS view may be sought). At any stage , the disciplinary action will be progressed with the consent of the individual and/or OHS, either by the individual supplying a written submission or by attending a hearing.

Q. What happens if the individual is due to leave the company?

A. The case should still be brought. Any proven disciplinary matter could effect the terms on which they leave the company and any state benefits entitlement.

Newstart/VR leavers commit to maintaining satisfactory standards of performance, attendance and conduct during the period between the signing of the agreement and their last day of service. Failure to do so could result in BT rescinding the agreement. Also BT reserves the right to rescind the agreement in respect of misconduct prior to the date of this agreement but first brought to BT's attention between the signing of the agreement and the individual's last day of employment.

Q. Should an investigating manager accept an anonymous witness statement?

A. Anonymous witness statements are rarely used. In some cases individuals may have justified reasons for retaining anonymity from the accused. However the identity of the individual will be known to BT and their accusations will have been verified by further investigation.

Q. When might BT Security be involved?

A. BT Security may highlight a infringement of BT's policy following an investigation.

Line managers can request BT Security assistance if they believe there has been a infringement of BT's policy but require further evidence.

Q. What happens if after an initial warning, either informal or formal, an individual repeats the same misconduct?

A. The individual should have been advised that any repeat of the misconduct will lead to further disciplinary action. They will be invited to attend a disciplinary hearing to explain their actions

Q. Does the investigating manager need to retain a copy of all the case papers?

A. No. All papers should be returned to the HR Case Management Service Centre (CMSC) Team.

Q. What is the definition of serious?

A. Serious misconduct is misconduct which is likely to need more than an Informal or Oral Warning applied as a corrective measure. This applies to any single serious breach of conduct rules and to minor misconduct which has arisen in spite of previous disciplinary action (eg Informal Warning(s) followed by Oral Warning(s).

Q. Are witnesses normally called to attend a disciplinary or appeal hearing?

A. There is provision within the accepted code of practice for witnesses to attend disciplinary and appeal hearings. Attendance of witnesses however does not happen as a matter of course at all disciplinary hearings but may take place where it is believed the witness could provide vital additional evidence . It should be noted however that although a witness can be called to attend a hearing they cannot be mandated to do so. Accordingly if a witness declines the offer, the parties are obliged to accept their response. In cases where a witness is asked to attend a hearing they may be questioned by either side. The investigating manager must however make every effort to protect witnesses from any form of intimidation either to attend a hearing or as a result of their statement and any request made to the investigating manager that a witness should attend will be considered on a case by case basis.

Q What happens to any annual leave I have owing if I am dismissed?

A. If you are dismissed with notice, you would normally be expected to take any outstanding annual leave within the notice period. If you are dismissed without notice, arrangements should be made for any outstanding annual leave to be paid back. See for more details

Links and Contacts


Accenture HR Services 0800 731 4747. (For urgent enquires only all other contact to be via the BT People System)

Offences directed at BT involving BT Employees - Procedure

BT Security 0800 321999.

Code of Practice – Breach Process-

Discipline Policy

Conduct Standards

Conduct Standards Policy

Grievance Policy

Grievance Procedure

Taste and Decency Policy

Fair Wear and Tear Guide