• Employment
  • December 01, 2021

How do I Conduct a Disciplinary Investigation?

Carrying out disciplinary investigations is one of the least desirable aspects of employing staff, but this may become necessary. Perhaps due to a particular incident or allegation made against an employee, there is no choice but to conduct an investigation into what happened. It is important that this process is carried out to ensure that the correct conclusion is reached, allowing the necessary disciplinary action to be taken. Before you carry out a disciplinary investigation, however, you will need to determine if one is needed.

What is a disciplinary investigation?

The purpose of a disciplinary investigation is to enable an employee to gather all of the information needed to make a decision following a complaint against an employee.  The process should preferably be documented in an HR manual and be followed in a fair and transparent manner.  Disciplinary investigations may be necessary where there are accusations of:

  • poor conduct
  • poor work performance
  • workplace bullying
  • dangerous behaviour which may harm the health and well-being of other members of staff
  • theft
  • inappropriate behaviour towards other members of staff and/or customers
  • breach of employment contract

The aims of a disciplinary investigation are to:

  • determine if disciplinary action is needed
  • treat those involved fairly
  • gather enough information from the parties involved 
  • make a decision on what action to take 

How do I carry out a disciplinary investigation?

Where your business already has a policy on disciplinary investigations, this should be followed carefully.  It is essential that you remain impartial at all times and handle the matter in a confidential and discrete manner.  A disciplinary investigation may include:

  1. gathering any physical evidence - this may include photos, emails, video recordings (CCTV), correspondence, and attendance records.
  2. holding meetings with the employee and any witnesses to gather more information (respect the right for the employee to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative.

It is essential that you consider the physical and mental well-being of the member of staff and also take appropriate records of the proceedings (e.g. a recording of the interviews).  You will also need to respect the GDPR when carrying out the investigation. 

Once you have completed the above steps, you will need to draft an investigation report, summarising your findings and recommending whether formal, informal, or no further action should be taken.

Final words

It is important to carry out a disciplinary investigation with care, transparency, and fairness, taking into account all of the advice above. Doing so will allow you to resolve the matter quickly and make a decision which you can show was taken properly at a later date. This will protect your business from any accusations of wrong doing, such as wrongful, unfair, or constructive dismissal

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Additional useful information

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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