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What I recommend to employers as a guideline is to bear in mind how much time they took to investigate and prepare for the hearing and then to allow the employee an equivalent amount of time. However, I strongly agree with Michael, that, ideally, it should be by agreement. This has a several advantages. Not only will it add weight to a chairperson’s decision to proceed if the employee and / or his / her representative fails to attend, but it will also enhance the employee’s perception that the hearing was fair. The more the employee is part of the decision regarding the logistics (the date, time, place and, wherever possible, the identity of the chairperson), the less likely a claim of procedural unfairness will succeed. If this is written into a disciplinary code, however, the final say should be given to the employer as an employee may refuse to agree in order to delay the inevitable. Including shop stewards in this decision will also help to improve industrial relations.