New Acas workplace investigations guide
When employers are faced with the possibility of pursuing disciplinary proceedings, one area that often appears to cause confusion to both them and their affected employees is what is expected of them in relation to disciplinary investigations.
For an employer to make sure that it does not fall foul of the Acas Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, it is essential that an investigation takes place prior to any disciplinary action. Although some employers tend to immediately assume guilt on the part of their employees, when matters of concern come to light, it can and does happen that, during an investigation, reasonable explanations arise which preclude the need for disciplinary action. Even where an employee’s guilt appears obvious, therefore, an employer should always investigate first, before launching straight into a disciplinary hearing or dismissal.
The amount of investigation that may be required will vary enormously depending on the individual circumstances of the case. It is important, however, for an employer to establish the relevant facts so that its case can be put to the employee in clear way, and so that the employee knows what he or she is being accused of. To assist employers, Acas has now published new guidance (which is available for free online at www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/o/5/Conducting-workplace-investigations.pdf) which outlines the essential decisions and actions that employers must make when deciding to conduct an investigation. Employees and their representatives can also use the guide to gain an understanding of how and why investigations should be conducted.