The conduction of employment investigations is important for employers and employees
Investigations should be conducted when managing conflict between individuals, when an employee has raised a grievance or during disciplinary proceedings for example for misconduct. Investigations are an integral part of your misconduct or gross misconduct dismissal.
In order for a conduct dismissal to be fair you must have;
- An honest belief that the employee was guilty of the offence;
- That there were reasonable grounds for holding that belief; and
- That these came from a reasonable investigation of the incident(s).
Important things to consider:
- An employer should fully consider the matter they’re investigating and collect all necessary documents and evidence. They should then make an informed decision on it.
- Procedural deficiencies in an investigation can lead to an unfair dismissal claim. Therefore, we emphasise the importance of fair and objective investigations.
- Investigations can differ in length. Some may take several weeks depending on their seriousness, whereas some matters may take only days.
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Investigations are undertaken to gather, establish and assess the facts surrounding a grievance or disciplinary issue. They are not part of the formal disciplinary hearing, however, they are an essential part of the process before making a determination as to whether to proceed to a disciplinary hearing and/or whether to uphold a grievance. Common situations which often require an investigation include;
- receiving a grievance from an employee
- allegations of bullying and harassment
- potential disciplinary matters against an employee
- concerns over company policies and procedures.
Employment investigations can highlight training issues and can result in dismissals and disciplinary action against employee’s.
Procedural deficiencies in an investigation can lead to an unfair dismissal claim and therefore it is essential that investigations are carried out fairly and objectively. The nature and extent of your investigation will depend on the seriousness of the matter and the more serious it is then the more thorough the investigation should be.
It is important to keep an open mind. The Employment Tribunal will expect you to show that you have conducted a careful, fair and objective investigation where complaints are made by or about employees.
Failure to investigate a grievance, complaint, conflict or conduct a fair investigation into a potential disciplinary case can led to a Tribunal claim. Employment Tribunals are incredibly costly in terms of time and money. The average cost of defending a Tribunal claim is between £10,000 and £15,000. This is just the cost of defending the claim. This does not take into account the cost and time to you of having employees out of the office and/or assisting in the preparation of the claim. It does not take into account the initial costs prior to lodging the claim, for example handling a grievance.
You do not want to face a successful Employment Tribunal claim purely on the basis that you have failed to follow a fair process by not conducting a fair investigation. In unfair dismissal claims the onus will be on you to show that you have carried out a reasonable investigation and that you have formed a reasonable belief from this investigation. Therefore the investigation is the backbone of your defence.
We can come in an investigate a grievance, complaint, conflict or potential disciplinary case. At that stage we would undertake the investigation and provide you with a report and recommendations of how you should proceed next.
We can also provide you with advice and guidance on how to conduct an investigation fairly. In addition we are able to provide training to you and your staff.
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