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Disciplinary investigations: Keeping it fair

Investigations are key to any disciplinary process. How can employers ensure that investigations are conducted fairly and thoroughly and don't lead to unfair dismissal claims later on?

Disciplinary procedures are there to support effective management by enabling the quick, cost-effective resolution of problems in the workplace and hopefully avoiding the need to go to tribunal. However, a flawed or incomplete investigation can undermine the entire disciplinary process and leave employers vulnerable to claims for unfair dismissal.

Disciplinary procedures must be conducted fairly and impartially, with an opportunity for the employee under investigation to be accompanied, respond to allegations and to have the right of appeal. It's essential for those carrying out the investigation to clearly identify the issues at stake, consider the type of evidence that will be required and then to gather and document this in a systematic way. Witnesses need to be managed with care, with full notes taken at every interview and then reviewed and signed by interviewees to ensure accuracy.

Acas offers training in all aspects of conducting a fair and reasonable investigation, helping employers to following good practice guidance as laid out in the Acas code of practice on discipline and grievance.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions page for more information.

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