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There is nothing more frustrating for employers than discovering that an employee dismissed for blatant misconduct has an arguable claim for unfair dismissal. Katherine Pope identifies the top 10 examples of how disciplinary procedures can go wrong for employers.
Managers carrying out disciplinary investigations and hearings will usually rely on guidance from HR as to policy and procedure, as well as previous disciplinary sanctions for the purposes of consistency.
However, HR involvement should not stray into assessments of the employee's credibility or culpability.
In Ramphal v Department for Transport, a number of amendments were made to the investigating manager’s draft report and recommendations, following HR involvement.
The recommended sanction increased from a final written warning to summary dismissal for gross misconduct. This suggested that the disciplinary outcome had been improperly influenced by HR and was potentially unfair.
It is for the decision-making manager to decide if he or she is satisfied that the employee committed the misconduct and what the disciplinary outcome should be.
HR advisers should restrict their involvement to issues of law, policy and procedure, and should avoid giving advice on the appropriate sanction,