Will changing the conclusion in an investigation report for a disciplinary hearing make the dismissal unfair?

This was the issue the Employment Appeal Tribunal had to consider in Dronsfield v The University of Reading.

What was the case about?

Dr Dronsfield was the subject of a disciplinary procedure which resulted in his dismissal.

The Tribunal heard that material in a draft investigation report was removed from the final version put before the disciplinary panel. These included conclusions the investigator had come to when considering the seriousness of Dr Dronsfield’s conduct.

The Tribunal  concluded that adopting that approach was not unfair and that Dr Dronsfield had been fairly dismissed. Dr Dronsfield appealed the decision.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal noted that drafts of a report would not normally be provided to the decision-maker responsible for the next stage of the disciplinary process. The decision of the Tribunal that it was not unreasonable or unfair for the investigator to act on advice that evaluative conclusions should not be included in the final report.

What can employers learn from this case?

  • When conducting investigations into employee misconduct, focus on the facts and report the evidence in an unbiased way. Making evaluative judgments on the seriousness of seriousness of an employee’s conduct should usually be left to the disciplinary officer or panel.
  • Suggesting that an investigator amends their report will not necessarily render any subsequent dismissal unfair. However, ensure that any advice does not overstep the mark. There are reported cases where, unlike the case reported above, investigators or decision makers have felt undue pressure to change their findings.
  • Consider providing terms of reference which act as a guide for investigators containing points of best practice.

We are running a free seminar for employers all about how to get a disciplinary investigation right and how to avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes.

 

Tuesday 26th November 2019, 9.30 am to 11.30am

Registration: 9:00am, Cumberwell Park, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 2PQ

Email now to book your place 

 

You can find more details here.

FREE first advice

Have you ever wanted to just ask an expert employment law solicitor if they can help you, without worrying about what it may cost to contact them?

Get in touch

We’d like to talk to you to see what we can do to help, so please either call us anytime for free on 08000 614 631, email us or use the form below.

      Together we can work out what your next steps might be...in confidence, at no cost and with no obligation.

      SIGN UP TO RECEIVE UP TO THE MINUTE EMPLOYMENT LAW AND HR NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX

      * indicates required
      McCabe and Co Solicitors will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:
      You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at philip@mccabeandco.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.
      We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.