Disciplinary Investigations

Hi all,

We're currently reviewing the way our disciplinary investigations are undertaken.  At present two members of our HR team would conduct an investigation and then a Senior Manager from within the business would Chair the Hearing (accompanied by another member of HR).  We're considering bringing managers (the level below our Senior Managers) in to investigate with one member of HR.  For this we're considering that manager being from within the same department that the employee is based in. 

I'm keen to learn what other companies do in this regard, people experiences of involving managers at the disciplinary stage and your views on this as an idea?

Thanks in advance


  • Most of the processes I have been involved with or implemented have very little HR involvement. Discipline is a line activity and should be led by them. Often HR advice can be supplied effectively remotely in all but the hardest cases.

    Also (for me)  the manager should be at the lowest level possible rather than default to a senior manger

  • In reply to Keith:

    I completely agree with Keith. We're not the organisation's police or CPS; we should be supporting managers to carry out investigations and hearings and generally facilitating the process.

    I would avoid enshrining in policy that investigations will generally be carried out by someone from the same department. While that may often make sense, there will also be occasions when you need to demonstrate the independence of the investigator and it is preferable to bring in someone from outside the department. There is no obligation to get into this level of detail in your procedural documents so I would keep it simple.
  • In reply to Elizabeth Divver:

    PS I am quite careful about ensuring investigators have clear terms of reference and that they are given a thorough briefing on how to carry out an investigation, including copying the investigator with the Acas Code of Practice (although it doesn't have a massive amount to say on investigations, it is the cornerstone on which everything else is built) and the Acas template for planning an investigation. We also ensure they have been briefed on what is and what isn't evidence and the concept of reasonable belief.
  • Like Keith and Elizabeth I would be asking the managers to do investigations with HR advising when needed.

    I may have misunderstood, do you have two people conducting each investigation, I think i personally would find that more of a hindrance than help. I totally understand why you have more than one person involved at a hearing
  • We don't have senior managers doing the investigations. (Unless the investigation is for a more senior person). We have 1 person (either from the person's work area or not), conducting the investigation and HR provide a support role. At the moment, HR are having to support with a lot of investigations, but we are moving more towards managers working more independently. To do this, they have all undergone investigation training.
  • Perhaps it's different with me always having worked in an SME and being either stand alone or part of a small HR team, but I've always encouraged both investigations and disciplinaries to be dealt with by someone else other than HR, with HR acting as an adviser and providing training, support and guidance on the process and only really attending meetings to take minutes and to offer procedural advice.

    As to who actually does the investigations, it would usually depend on the facts at hand. To my mind the investigator should be someone slightly removed from the situation who is able to approach it with an open mind, but who still has the relevant technical knowledge to really understand the situation. Whether that's someone from the same department or elsewhere might depend on what is actually being investigated.
  • In reply to Elizabeth Divver:

    Hi Elizabeth
    you mention that you "ensure they have been briefed on what is and what isn't evidence and the concept of reasonable belief." I'm being rather cheeky but would you be able to point me to some resources on that? I'd be keen to similarly have something to help managers here.
  • Fern much like the other comments really. I too wonder how two people who probably don't have as good as understanding of how most jobs 'on-the-line' are probably conducted and thus the kind of issues, protocols and so involved would simply mean a longer and possibly less than satisfactory knowledge of the ins and outs involved.

    As for two HR? I would assume that when one avenue of investigation opens up they;d have to liaise as to who is doing what bit? And how do you avoid practicalities like, "When I mentioned it to Fred he told me xxx but your statement from Fred mentions yyy and not much xxx" sort of thing. Surely sorting out all this must take a lot of extra time?
    And for a simple case such as being late?