A thorough investigation into alleged misconduct can go a long way towards mitigating risks and establishing the appropriate steps for the employer to take in terms of the employee, policies, procedures and third parties.
This is especially true in the following circumstances:
- where the employee might be dismissed and then claim unfair dismissal.
- where you may be subject to scrutiny from outside (Ofsted and LADO)
- wherefore there might be reputational damage.
Key factors when investigating claims of misconduct include:
- What are we investigating and why? The issues need to be defined to determine the scope of the investigation as precisely as possible. Do not let other matters distract you from the key issues.
- The scope of the investigation should be kept under review and if new evidence comes to light the scope of the investigation may have to change or adapt.
- When appointing an investigator should a person from within the organisation do it or do you need an impartial third party?
- If you have a process for handling this type of matter, use it. If not, refer to the ACAS code. Don’t make it up as you go along.
- Have a plan as to how the investigation will be done. Practical considerations are important as to what needs to be looked at and why.
- Care should be exercised in how evidence is collected and presented as it may be needed in court if litigation follows.
At the conclusion of any investigation process, an investigation report may be produced. It should be clear and concise. A third party should be able to read it and grasp what has been done and why. Thereby understanding the report’s conclusions.
If actions are recommended for misconduct, use your disciplinary procedures to do so. Similarly if other failings or shortcomings are flagged up, take action to remedy them and ensure it is done and documented.
Whilst an investigation into claims of misconduct can be time-consuming, it is an opportunity for an employer to manage the risks and ascertain what went wrong. Was it the person, process, or policy. Then put it right to reduce future risks.
If we can be of any assistance with your investigation, please call us on 01527 909436.