The first thought when receiving a disciplinary is probably not whether it will affect job opportunities in the future – but it’s important to ask. Not only will potential employers look at previous experiences and references, but how an individual handles the fact that they received a disciplinary.

Here’s some information about disciplinaries in general, how disciplinaries affect future jobs and careers, and how to professionally disclose them.

Is Disciplinary Action Confidential?

Yes, this process is usually confidential and should not be discussed with anyone outside of the company. However, if criminal charges are being faced or a potential employer requests a reference, this can be shared with the relevant parties.

Can Future Employers See a Disciplinary?

Although previous employers are not obliged to share with potential employers that employees received a disciplinary, they may decide to share this when approached for a reference. Depending on work performance since the disciplinary was given, it is likely this will not be disclosed as it may be thought that it doesn’t accurately reflect work ethic.

Does an Employer Have to Disclose a Disciplinary in a Reference?

As mentioned above, in the UK there is no legal regulation that disciplinary information must be disclosed in a reference. However, employers have a legal duty to guarantee the references are accurate and do not mislead anyone.

It is up to the employer whether they disclose the disciplinary. Factors that might influence this is if the employment involves working with vulnerable adults or children, as this will be important to protect the health and safety of others.

How Long Does a Disciplinary Stay on Record For?

There is no specific legal requirement for how long a disciplinary stays on record for. Written warnings sometimes remain in place for six months, but for more serious cases, it may be longer or indefinitely. The length of time should be clearly defined in the confirmation of disciplinary action, within the company policy or employment contract.

The length of time can depend on various circumstances, for example, the severity of the incident and the type of industry or profession, as these may require security clearances so they may have stricter regulations.

How Do You Disclose a Disciplinary to Future Employers?

Honesty is always important, so when asked about previous disciplinaries, be open and demonstrate how this has been a lesson learnt. Hiding a disciplinary does not start new employment on the right foot and could potentially lead to application rejection. Give a brief explanation and how positive changes have been made since the incident. This will show professionalism and trustworthiness.

When Should You Disclose Information to Potential Employers?

If and when a potential employer asks a question about a disciplinary, this should be shared immediately. Otherwise, there is the potential of them discovering it later down the line which risks a successful application or even disciplinary action in new employment. This is due to a breach of trust and confidence.

A failure to disclose this information in regulated professions such as solicitors, medical or financial sectors, could threaten the ability to continue practicing. To find out more about this, get advice from a regulatory and disciplinary specialist. Although it may be daunting to share this information, it is always better to be honest and upfront with potential employers. There is the risk that it could affect future jobs, but there is also the risk of the job offer being withdrew or further disciplinary action. In order to improve the chances of securing future employment or if you are disciplined/had a job offer withdrawn, seek advice from an experienced solicitor like Premier Legal who specialise in employment law and tribunals.