Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

This recent news article from the Courier covered a recent claim for unfair dismissal by former employees of a sub-contractor of GlaxoSmithKline. We’ll take a look at the facts of this case and then examine what employers must do to ensure that they conduct an investigation fairly – particularly relating to the obligation to inform employees of the allegations against them.

The facts of the case

The three ex-employees (“the Claimants”) were employed by a subcontractor at the GlaxoSmithKline site in Montrose, Scotland. Their employer, Kitsons Environmental Europe Ltd, a specialist asbestos removal and thermal insulation company, had its services subcontracted to it by Dasoon Bacock, the contractor in this instance. The Claimants were employed to maintain the site during the week and on an ad-hoc basis not relating to maintenance at the weekend. The men operated on a “job and knock” approach – they would leave the site when the job they were asked to do had finished.

In February 2011 security staff became concerned about the frequency with which the Claimants were entering and exiting the site. They informed the operations manager (Mr Livingstone) of this and he discovered that the Claimants has submitted incorrect hours on their timesheets. This resulted in the Claimants being called for an investigation, being subjected to the disciplinary process and dismissed.

How the investigation and disciplinary went wrong

The Employment Tribunal pointed out a number of problems with the investigation and disciplinary process, namely:

  1. Mr Livingstone was not a sufficiently impartial person to supervise the investigatory and disciplinary processes and had attempted to “dredge up” evidence on the Claimants
  2. The Claimants had not been informed of the allegations being made against them prior to the investigatory hearing
  3. Mr Livingstone had come to a pre-conceived decision to dismiss the Claimants prior to the disciplinary hearing
  4. The investigation and disciplinary process was conducted with “undue haste” within 5 days

As well as pointing out these defects, the Employment Tribunal went on to state that there had also been procedural failings – including the failure to take into account such mitigating circumstances as the “knock and job” approach was common and accepted on the site and that no other employees had been disciplined or dismissed as a result of the practice.

How to conduct an investigation fairly

[spacer size=”20″]

1. The employer must conduct a reasonable investigation

The ACAS Code emphasizes the importance of an investigation to establish the facts in the matter – as well as a slew of common law. An employer cannot be said to have acted reasonably if they reach their conclusion “in consequence of ignoring the matters which he ought reasonably to have known and which would have shown that the reason was insufficient” (W Devis & Sons Ltd v Atkins [1977] IRLR 314)

2. The employer must inform the employee of the problem

Under the ACAS Code one of the most basic elements of fairness is informing the employee of the allegations against them and giving them an opportunity to put their case. The employer should inform the employee of the issues prior to the investigation hearing (if there was one) or, alternatively, before the disciplinary hearing if there is no investigatory hearing.

logo_website

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.76 Average

176 Reviews

Mohamed A

Super helpful and efficient, trustworthy service

Posted 2 days ago

Anonymous

efficient, responsive and effective

Posted 3 days ago

Andrew B

Very good service

Posted 3 days ago

Anonymous

Excellent service, compassionate and a good outcome

Posted 4 days ago

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 1 week ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Got the job done swiftly without going too much in to detail.

Posted 1 week ago

Derek W

Redmans dealt with my case very efficiently and I was happy with the outcome.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Timely professional advice!

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very good service

Posted 2 weeks ago

Anonymous

I was in contact with Chris and then worked with Caroline on an employment matter. I was very pleased with the service and professionalism throughout, and came away with satisfied with the outcome. Would happily recommend.

Posted 2 weeks ago

Nikki

Received advice re employment law. Chris was very helpful and advised accordingly. Would happily recommend them and if ever I need help again, will not think twice before using them.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Samantha K

Absolutely brilliant thank you. Caroline Lewis is a legend

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

The legal advice was clear and helpful.

Posted 2 months ago

Davinder P

Good Service

Posted 2 months ago

Adrian V

I was using Redmans services for a Settlement Agreement. Very quick and professional service. The outcome was favourable and I was very pleased with the amendments and results. Pretty glad to recommend them for any type of legal advice.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very responsive, efficient, clear and supportive. Thank you! Highly recommend.

Posted 2 months ago

Tiago S

Chris was always prompt to help me with legal matters that are beyond my comprehension and very helpful leasing with my former employer. I would recommend Redmans Solicitors to everyone who needs help.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Fast and professional advice tailored to what was needed. Thanks for your help Chris Hadrill and team.

Posted 2 months ago

Peter S

Really pleased with the outcome and the advice I had from Chris and Sacha.

Posted 2 months ago

Harika A

Redmans solicitor's helped me with my settlement agreement, Chris has been very helpful throughout the process.He was very prompt in his responses and made my settlement look simple.Special thanks to Caroline for her efficient communication, thorough explaination of contract terminology and negotiations.I highly reccommend Redmans solicitors for anyone seeking employment related legal help.

Posted 2 months ago