Advising managers: how to conduct a disciplinary investigation
Advising managers: how to conduct a disciplinary investigation

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Advising managers: how to conduct a disciplinary investigation
  • The purpose of a disciplinary investigation
  • Legal considerations and implications
  • When to conduct a disciplinary investigation
  • Choosing the person to conduct a disciplinary investigation
  • Appointing an external investigator
  • Disciplinary investigation process
  • Reviewing the evidence and making recommendations
  • Record-keeping requirements and data protection issues

Where a conduct issue arises in the workplace, the first stage in managing that issue is to investigate the problem, in order to establish the facts of the case. This is essential if the employer is to act fairly. See Practice Notes: Managing conduct—Investigating a problem and Dismissing fairly for conduct reasons—Procedure to dismiss fairly for misconduct—Investigation for further information.

The paragraphs below set out guidance for managers on how to conduct such a disciplinary investigation.

The purpose of a disciplinary investigation

A disciplinary investigation is an investigation to establish all the circumstances and facts surrounding an allegation of misconduct against an employee.

Its main purpose is to gather all the evidence and documentation that may be relevant to the allegation and to make a recommendation about whether the matter should give rise to a disciplinary hearing under the employer's formal disciplinary procedure.

Legal considerations and implications

The Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures states that any necessary investigations should be carried out, to establish the facts of the case.

Failure to follow the Code of Practice, which was issued under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A 1992), does not automatically make an employer liable in any proceedings taken against it, but an employment tribunal will take the Code of Practice into account when deciding