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Jacqui Mann. Employee investigation

What To Do When Carrying Out An Employee Investigation

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The first thing to do when performing an Employee Investigation

When an incident occurs in your business, sometimes it’s difficult to know if any disciplinary action is required.

The first thing you need to do is carry out an investigation to establish the facts of what happened.

Any investigation should be carried out without unreasonable delay. Once you have completed the investigation you will then know if any further disciplinary action is required.

First of all, you need to establish all the facts surrounding the incident, including any mitigating circumstances.

The course of the investigation will vary, depending on the particulars of each case. However you do need to consider the following:

  • Decide who will conduct the investigation. Whenever possible, a different manager should conduct the investigation from the manager who would conduct any disciplinary meeting. A tribunal would not look favorably on the case if the same person carried out the investigation and then conducted the disciplinary hearing.
  • Review whether the employee should be suspended while the matter is being investigated. Suspension will normally only be appropriate in cases of negligence or gross misconduct. If you do suspend an employee you should still pay them. Remember suspension does not mean they are guilty. Suspension should be for as short a time as possible.

  • Interview witnesses. This should be done as soon as possible to ensure the incident is recalled accurately. Written signed statements should be obtained from each witness.
  • Obtain any other evidence that may be available. That could be CCTV, documents, timesheets etc. Anything that is going to give you more information about the incident.
  • In most cases you would holding an investigatory meeting with the employee to establish their version of events before proceeding to any disciplinary hearing. In some cases for example possible fraud in may not be necessary to do this. You could collect all your evidence and provide it to the employee when you invite them to a disciplinary meeting.
  • There is no statutory right for an employee to be accompanied at a formal investigatory meeting.
  • When investigating take care to deal with the employee in a fair and reasonable manner. The nature and extent of the investigations 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 and look for evidence which supports the employee’s case as well as evidence against.

Employment Contract

  • When holding a meeting give the employee advance warning and time to prepare. Any investigatory meeting should be confined to establishing the facts of the case. You are not interested in gossip or hearsay, just facts.
  • It is important that disciplinary action is not considered at an investigatory meeting. If it becomes apparent that formal disciplinary action may be needed then this should be dealt with at a formal meeting at which the employee will have the statutory right to be accompanied.

Remember as the employer you could be held liable if a poor investigation leads to an unfair dismissal which can prove very costly in an Employment Tribunal.

Do you need legal employment advice? Talk to us about HR Support, book a call. We can help you.


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