Who should carry out an investigation? The person appointed to carry out the disciplinary investigation is known as the investigating officer. They should be independent to the allegations and they should have a good understanding of the disciplinary procedures.
When should the investigation be carried out? The investigating officer should not delay the investigation and should take action as soon as possible.
What steps should the investigating officer take in carrying out the investigation? The investigating officer should review the allegations and consider what evidence is available. Depending on the circumstances of the case and employer rules the evidence could be gathered from witness statements, CCTV records, emails, staff files and training records. It is important that the investigating officer takes time to plan the investigation before it commences.
When is it appropriate to suspend an employee? If the allegations may be deemed to be gross misconduct which would result in summary dismissal then the investigating officer may decide to suspend the employee. If the investigating officer believes there is a risk of the employee damaging the investigation it may be appropriate to suspend. In most cases the employee will be suspended on full pay. At the investigation stage the investigating officer is still gathering facts and no decision has been made regarding disciplinary action.
What steps should be taken once the investigation is complete? Ideally the investigatory officer should pass the information they have gathered to another manager who will then carry out a disciplinary hearing.
If the investigating officer gathers the facts regarding the allegation and decides that there is no case to answer and no disciplinary action will be taken then they should inform the employee this is the case.
The ACAS code of practice on discipline and grievance procedures provides practical guidance on handling disciplinary situations in the workplace. Whilst this code is not legally binding employment tribunals will take this code into account when considering any case. A tribunal can adjust any award by up to 25% for an unreasonable failure to comply with its provisions.
This article provides a practical guide but is not intended to be advice on a specific case. If you would like advice on a case you are managing please feel free to give me a call on 07900 60 4551.