Conducting a disciplinary investigation

A Court of Appeal decision illustrates the need for businesses to undertake thorough investigations into disciplinary allegations. The court held that an employer did not breach its duty of care to an employee by bringing disciplinary proceedings against her. It had been alleged that the employee had been complicit with a colleague in the preparation of false and misleading references which he then used to obtain new employment.

It is important for an employer to clearly define such allegations at the outset of an investigation. The investigation should involve searching for relevant contemporaneous evidence and speaking to each relevant witness before putting the allegations to the individual who is the subject of the allegation. The subject needs to have a clear understanding of what the allegations are and the investigator should be careful to ensure that any issues that arise as a result of an interview are followed up before a decision on the pursuit of disciplinary proceedings is made.