20 February 2015:
How much investigation is appropriate in disciplinary proceedings?
In Shrestha v Genesis Housing Association Ltd, the Court of Appeal held that an employee was fairly dismissed after an investigation revealed that he had claimed mileage in excess of almost twice that recommended for the relevant journey by the AA.
It was not necessary on the facts for Genesis to carry out a detailed investigation into the Mr Shrestha’s explanation that he had been forced to take longer journeys due to road works, one-way systems and parking difficulties: It was clear that these reasons could not fully explain the discrepancy in mileage. The disciplinary manager ascertained that Mr Shrestha had claimed almost twice as many miles as the AA recommended for journeys on at least two occasions.
The employment tribunal concluded that Genesis had undertaken a reasonable investigation, and that the decision to dismiss was within the range of reasonable responses open to the company.
Mr Shrestha argued that Genesis should have investigated each of his explanations fully. The Court of appeal disagreed with Mr Shrestha and said that this would add an unwarranted gloss to the range of reasonable responses test. The mileage claimed by Mr Shrestha was almost twice as high as it should have been. It was not necessary to investigate further.
As a general rule of thumb, the more serious the allegation, the more investigation may be appropriate in the circumstances. The employer may not have to follow each line of investigation that the employee raises, but should be prepared to explain why it was not appropriate in the circumstances.
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