Why Must Disciplinary Allegations Be Set Out Clearly?
Why Must Disciplinary Allegations Be Set Out Clearly? The tribunals have ruled that it is a ‘fundamental right’ that in disciplinary proceedings the charge against an employee should be ‘precisely framed’.
Any employee who is under investigation, should be informed in writing of the allegations against them, that an investigation will be carried out and notified of who to contact if they have any questions during the investigation.
The written notification should:
- Provide the employee with a copy of the relevant internal procedure;
- Confirm the approximate timescales for the investigation; and
- Specify the next steps, for example interviewing witnesses and collecting data and information.
In circumstances where you feel important evidence might be destroyed you should consider suspending the employee whilst the investigation goes ahead. This is a much easier way to proceed than trying to investigate a matter without the employee finding out what you are doing.
An employee is usually suspended to avoid the risk of others involved in the investigation feeling intimidated while it is conducted, or evidence being corrupted.
Whether you suspend, or not, will largely depend on the gravity of the allegation. Suspension for gross misconduct, such as violent behaviour, is much more likely.
Top Tips for Dealing with the Suspension of an Employee for Alleged Misconduct
For any dismissal to be fair it is essential that a thorough investigation has taken place to determine whether disciplinary action is necessary. When suspension is used it should always be a precautionary measure to protect both the individual and the company, the circumstances of the case must justify it and that it must by necessary to ensure a fair investigation.
Once the Investigating Officer has concluded the investigation process the employee should be notified whether or not there is a disciplinary case to answer.
Where a decision is made to progress to a formal disciplinary meeting, the employee should be notified in writing. The notice should contain sufficient information about the alleged misconduct or poor performance and its possible consequences to enable the employee to prepare to answer the case at the disciplinary meeting. In order for the employee to prepare fully, they will need to see copies of all documentation which has assisted the investigation such as any evidence and witness statements. The employee should be given sufficient time to consider the evidence and prepare a defence. Failure to provide these could result in delays during the meeting.
The notification should also provide details of the time and venue for the disciplinary hearing and advise the employee of their right to be accompanied.
Imprecise Allegations Render a Dismissal Unfair
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that an employee’s dismissal following an allegation of ‘loss of £3,000’, when the real reason was the employer’s belief that she had stolen the money, was unfair.
The EAT ruled that it is a ‘fundamental right’ that in disciplinary proceedings the charge against an employee should be ‘precisely framed’.
If you have any questions, please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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