Keebles put the spotlight on the importance of correctly handling investigations in the workplace

Prevention is Cheaper than the Cure
The only way is up for the number of single claims received by the Employment Tribunal.

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Keebles put the spotlight on the importance of correctly handling investigations in the workplace

Prevention is Cheaper than the Cure

The only way is up for the number of single claims received by the Employment Tribunal. In the first quarter of 2019/20 9,700 single claims were received by the Employment Tribunal, a 14% increase on the figures for the same period in 2018. Due to the abolition of Employment Tribunal fees in 2017, more and more individuals are choosing this route to resolve disputes with their employers.

Further evidence of the importance of correctly handling investigations is shown by the case of Dronsfield v The University of Reading 2016. Professor Dronsfield was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct following his admission that he had had a sexual relationship with one of his students. The matter was investigated internally however, the investigator of the matter omitted information within his report that would have assisted Professor’s Dronsfield’s case. Professor Dronsfield was dismissed and following an unsuccessful appeal, he subsequently pursued a claim within the tribunal for unfair dismissal. The university ultimately prevailed however only after the case had been heard by the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal twice and largely unrecoverable and significant costs incurred!

Should an issue arise within the workplace, be it a grievance or the misconduct of an employee, INVESTIGATION IS KEY. In our view it is often more important to get the investigation correct than the actual disciplinary or grievance meeting.

The ACAS Guide to Disciplinaries and Grievances at Work provides employers with the correct steps and processes when it comes to handling the investigation stage. This is essential reading for all employers however these are our 8 top tips for employers to consider when carrying out investigations:

  • Do not delay – investigations should be carried out as soon as possible;
  • Remain neutral – at the investigation you are NOT making the decision you are just investigation;
  • Identify the facts and pre-plan questions before interviewing staff;
  • Identify the complainant’s preferred solution in a grievance;
  • Take detailed notes of all meetings;
  • Use investigation interviews with staff to obtain facts/ask them questions rather than getting them to do their own statements and ensure statements should be signed and dated;
  • If dealing with a grievance or other complaint, plan to re-interview the complainant after conducting investigatory interviews amongst other staff;
  • A detailed and thorough written report should be prepared of the findings.

Should any issue arise where any employer is unsure of the steps they need to take – contact our offices on 0114 276 5555 and ask to speak to a member of the employment team for advice.

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