14th March 2022

Ask The Expert: Some points to note when taking notes

At our most recent Ask The Expert webinar, we were asked whether there is a preference for handwritten or typed notes to be produced following a disciplinary (or other) meeting.

The short answer is that there is no specific requirement and it should be whatever is most convenient and appropriate in the particular case or given the size and structure of the employer.

Handwritten notes can often be good as they can be reviewed (and hopefully) agreed at the meeting but then there is the problem with the person who has terrible handwriting (you know who you are!) and they are then difficult to refer back to later.

Typed notes are, perhaps unsurprisingly, becoming more common particularly with better technology and the use of virtual meeting software to conduct hearings. Unlike handwritten notes, they are often easier to read and often much better in terms of structure and lay out. But there then comes the issue of sending these to the employee to ‘agree’.

We would always suggest not to get too bogged down in the idea of agreement. In some cases that will never be possible and trying to reach that agreement will take ages. Instead you could ask the employee to give any comments they have by a certain time and you could append these to the minutes, rather than change them or try to reach agreement.

Ultimately, if you are looking at a dismissal it is for the employer to show that the process was fair and it is quite unlikely that a couple of words here or there are going to change the substantive discussion or outcome of the meeting.

Don’t make perfection the enemy of the good. Make the notes as good as you can (whether by hand or electronic), ask the employee to review and, if necessary, provide comment but don’t spend hours or days trying to reach agreement if that is clearly not going to be possible.

If you have any burning employment law questions, why not sign up for our monthly Ask The Expert webinars?

Blair Duncan, Solicitor


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