Carrying out effective investigations

Recent case law has highlighted that employers often fall short of statutory requirements when conducting disciplinary and grievance investigations. Before dismissing any employee there is a requirement to carry out a full investigation. However, employers are often unsure what a ‘full investigation’ might be.

It is important to start an investigation by considering what information is needed to get to the crux of the matter.  Is there some evidence that would make it clear whether an employee has done what is alleged? Would this evidence include witness statements, CCTV footage, evidence from computerised systems?  Then evaluate the evidence and think about what else this has led to. Is there something else that is now needed to establish further facts?

Check who was witness to the events. Take witness statements from them all. It is also important to take witness statements from people who may have been present but who did not see anything. Why did they see nothing if they were there? Was it because there was nothing to see, and the allegations are false?

When you have gathered your evidence, then determine whether there is an issue to address. When the employee is invited to any disciplinary meeting, ensure that they are given a copy of all the evidence that the employer is going to rely on.

During the disciplinary, if it emerges that the employee has conflicting evidence, decide whether further investigation is needed,

Finally, remember that the requirement is to decide on the balance of probabilities, if the employee did as accused. There is not a requirement to prove that the employee is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Evaluate the facts, determine what occurred and take a decision based on the investigation findings and the reasonable belief of the disciplinary manager.

121 HR Solutions can deliver in house training on managing all aspects of disciplinary and grievance investigations. Contact us at further information.

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