Disciplinary Investigations

Problems can arise in any workplace and making sure they are dealt with fairly and consistently may require an investigation. A properly conducted investigation allows an employer to fully consider the matter and then make an informed decision on it.

ACAS identifies 4 Key points about investigations

  • An investigation is a fact-finding exercise to collect all the relevant information on a matter.

  • An investigator should be given clear guidance on what exactly they are required to investigate, and how their findings should be reported.

  • Whenever possible the investigator should not be involved in the issue being investigated.

  • The investigator should gather and document what the issues of the matter are, consider what evidence may be available and relevant, and how it may be collected.

When may an investigation be necessary?

Most matters that arise in a workplace can be resolved informally and quickly. Mediation can also be a positive intervention.

If an informal resolution is not possible, then an investigation may be necessary if formal action is needed, such as a written warning.

Common situations that will often require an investigation include:

  • receiving a grievance from an employee

  • allegations of bullying and harassment

  • potential disciplinary matters against an employee

  • concerns over company policies and procedures.

Why is a properly conducted investigation important?

Investigations are an essential part of handling certain matters within an organisation. In potential disciplinary investigations a flawed or incomplete investigation can undermine the disciplinary process and leave employers vulnerable to claims for unfair dismissal.

If an employer dismisses an employee they must be able to show that they:

  • genuinely believed that misconduct had occurred

  • had reasonable grounds for this belief

  • had arrived at this belief after a reasonable investigation.

For a dismissal to be fair an employer must be able to show that they came to their decision as a result of a fair and thorough investigation.

Investigations are just as important when a grievance has been raised.  Where the grievance is not upheld, the evidence collected during the investigation can be used to explain the reasons behind this and show an employee that their grievance was taken seriously.

SW Councils have a team of experienced investigators with a successful track record of providing independent support in investigatory processes delivering a fair, robust and high quality service in line with legislation and best practice.

SW Councils also offers training “Understanding Disciplinary and Grievance Investigations” for  managers to ensure disciplinary or grievance investigations are undertaken fully, fairly and reasonably. 

For further information on support we offer email hr@swcouncils.gov.uk or phone 01823 270101.