Investigations: The Role of the Investigation Officer is Key
All Employers have situations where an Employee misbehaves or becomes comfortable and complacent in their employment or the role that they do. On these occasions things may occur that require addressing via the Disciplinary Procedure.
The very first step in these cases is a thorough investigation into whether there is a case to take forwards to a disciplinary hearing.
It is not enough to just decide to call a hearing and issue a warning to an employee or dismiss an employee, for a major or minor issue of an apparent wilful failure to undertake something related to their role or conduct at work. A judgement on the case needs to be made on the facts of the situation, which in turn can only be established by carrying out a thorough and unbiased investigation. This means appointing someone as objective as possible and who is not expected to hear any case against the Employee, to establish the facts such as:
- Where the incident took place;
- When the incident took place;
- How the situation arose;
- The full circumstances around the incident;
- Who may have witnessed the incident;
- Any Witness’s version of events in a statement gathered from them;
- The Employee who is under investigations’ version of events in a statement provided by them;
- Any other facts such as CCTV or paper evidence relevant to the allegation against the Employee.
It’s a bit like being a detective getting to the bottom of the facts without bias, and without leading the evidence collected in a reasonable and fair way. This is the important and vital role of the Investigation Officer in any potential disciplinary case. It is not the job of the Investigating Officer to make a judgement on the employee who the allegation or allegations is against. However they can recommend whether a disciplinary hearing is convened based on the full facts after the investigation and presented in an investigation report, backed up by any evidence gathered.
A poor investigation can make it difficult for any further action being regarded as reasonable and fair and in turn could render any dismissal unfair bringing the risk of additional cost to the Employer. This is because the process would not conform to the ACAS Code on Conduct issues rendering the employer liable for up to an additional 25% cost on any award secured by the employee should they be dismissed.
Clover HR offers courses on how to carry out HR investigations and disciplinaries in the workplace. For more information and advice on this issue please contact Clover HR via our email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01905 824051.
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