I have been nominated to investigate an allegation of misconduct. What are the guiding principles that I need to have in mind?

The purpose of the investigation is to gather the available facts to see whether or not the matter warrants formal disciplinary action.

As the purpose is not to prove that the allegation against the accused is true, neutral evidence, and evidence that supports the accused employee should not be ignored. For example, if some staff give evidence saying that they did not see the accused doing what the complainant alleges, this is still relevant evidence. The accused should be made aware of it, and you should take this into account.

In assessing the available evidence, you should keep an open mind and consider matters such as: (i) Whether or not there is another possible explanation for the alleged misconduct, (ii) Whether there is any antagonism between the accused and the complainant.

Once the facts have been gathered, your next task is to assess them to see if they seem to support the allegation, or disprove the allegation. You are to make this judgment call on balance of the available evidence that you have gathered.

What do we do when we receive the appeal letter from the employee?

  1. Write to the employee to acknowledge receipt of the appeal.

  2. Give the employee written notice of an appeal hearing. In the letter include:
    (a) The identity of the appeal chairperson;
    (b) The date time and venue of the appeal meeting;
    (c) The fact that the appeal decision will be final;
    (d) The employee’s right to be accompanied by a work colleague of his/her choice, or a Trade Union Representative;
    (e) Notice that the employee should make immediate contact if s/he cannot attend on the date, or at the time proposed;
    (f) Notice that if the employee fails to attend the appeal hearing, and (i) does not give notice of this; or (ii) provide a good explanation for the non-attendance, the hearing may go ahead without him/her. The appeal chairperson will rely on the appeal letter, rather than any additional points that the employee may have made if s/he attended the hearing.

  3. Teaser: What do we do if an employee sends us a fit note for stress, depression, or anxiety, after the disciplinary matter has arisen?

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