Disciplinary investigation: 5 things you should know

What is a disciplinary investigation?

When there are concerns about potential wrongdoing it is important to establish whether there is any substance to those concerns or not, and an investigation is the way to achieve that. The investigation phase is part of the disciplinary process: it is when the evidence is gathered, and a decision is then made regarding whether the matter should be taken further or not.

 When should a disciplinary investigation be done?

 There should be an investigation whenever there is an issue that may result in disciplinary action being taken. The investigation must be the first phase: before any decisions are made regarding blame, and/ or deciding what the sanctions (punishment) should be.

 Why is a disciplinary investigation needed?

Because without one how do you know what actually happened? A common example is theft. Just because something went missing, and he person in question could have done it, it doesn’t automatically mean that they did. An investigation would explore all possibilities and gain the evidence rather than pointing the finger and relying simply on instinct. The person in the example may be dismissed because of the alleged theft, and claim unfair dismissal on the basis the he or she was not to blame and the employer had no evidence for reaching such a conclusion. Whereas, a thorough investigation would indicate that any decisions were considered and reasonable.

 How should a disciplinary investigation be done?

 The key here is that the process should be transparent and fair. It is not about searching for evidence to support a particular outcome, and ignoring anything that doesn’t help to achieve it. It is about keeping an open mind and finding all relevant evidence, including anything that is helpful to the person concerned.


Who should conduct a disciplinary investigation?

 Investigations are often carried out by the organisation itself, but firms may prefer to outsource that task. Whoever is chosen, wherever possible, the person responsible for the investigation should not make any decisions regarding the disciplinary hearing or appeal.


The investigation phase is often overlooked despite how important it is. Plotkin & Chandler provides training in this area so that those undertaking this role can do so with confidence, or we can undertake the investigation itself. Call us on 020 3923 8616 or email on info@plotkinandchandler.com



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