Disciplinary and grievance investigations present a challenge for HR professionals and managers. Here, Richard Thomas outlines the elements you need to get right – and how Capital Law’s breakfast briefings can help.
If you are a manager or HR professional, the chances are that at some point in your career you will need to conduct a disciplinary or grievance investigation. It’s more important than ever that you conduct this correctly, because there has been a steady rise in employment tribunal cases since July 2017, when the Supreme Court quashed fees for tribunal claims.
Given that it is once again free to bring a claim, far more people are doing so: the number has risen by 26% year on year and looks set to continue rising. This means it is vital to ensure that the initial investigation of any disciplinary or grievance is done correctly, so that if the case goes to tribunal, it stands up to scrutiny.
Knowing where to start, and how to carry this out, can be daunting and fraught with pitfalls – which is why we hold our regular breakfast briefings covering all you need to know about the topic.
You can come unstuck in an investigation by not interviewing the right people, not taking into account the right documentation, and – crucially – not presenting clear evidence: it is vital that you rely upon clear evidence to back up any conclusions that you reach.
Our briefings explore in detail how to collect and present evidence. We provide clear guidance on how to conduct an interview, questioning techniques and the difference between open and closed questioning. We also explore body language and how to get people to feel at ease, so that they open up.
We cover all the practicalities of how to write an investigation report, and how to provide a disciplinary outcome letter based on a report – and we explore what happens if the employee is unhappy and decides to go to tribunal. Your paperwork will be heavily scrutinised at this stage, so it’s critical that you follow the correct procedure from the outset.
If you have not had sufficient training, it is possible that your report will get pulled apart in tribunal, which can be stressful and upsetting. The aim of our briefings is to ensure that you know how the process works and that you are fully prepared with a process that will stand up to scrutiny.
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