Introduction to this document

Letter appointing a disciplinary investigation manager

Where disciplinary allegations are made against an employee, the first stage is to appoint a manager to conduct an investigation, the purpose of which is to ascertain whether or not there is a potential disciplinary case for the employee to answer. Use our letter to do this.

Role of the investigating officer

In order to comply with the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures it’s important that, before moving to the disciplinary hearing stage, any allegations have been thoroughly and properly investigated to establish the facts of the case. An investigating officer will therefore need to be appointed. This should be someone at managerial level and they should not be involved at all in the allegations as their investigation needs to be balanced, impartial and unbiased. The investigating officer’s role is to establish the facts promptly and without unreasonable delay. This will normally involve collating documentary evidence and, where appropriate, obtaining statements from any available witnesses. In some cases, it will also require the holding of an investigatory meeting with the accused employee. An investigatory meeting is not a disciplinary hearing and so there is no statutory right for the employee to be accompanied. Having investigated all the facts, the investigating officer should then put together a report which sets out the findings on whether or not there is a potential disciplinary case to answer. If not, or it turns out the issue was very minor, then the recommendation will normally be to either drop the matter or to arrange for the employee to receive informal coaching or counselling. Alternatively, if there is a case to answer, the recommendation will normally be for disciplinary proceedings to be commenced against the employee under the company’s formal disciplinary procedure. If the case does then proceed to a disciplinary hearing, another manager should be appointed to chair it. It is important that the report reflects the investigating officer’s own findings and recommendations. Whilst it is acceptable for them to seek advice from an HR department as to matters of law and procedure, the findings and recommendations in the report should be entirely their own and it should not include, or have been improperly influenced by, anyone else’s views or opinions. 

Letter contents

Our letter:

  • appoints the investigating officer and sets out details of the allegations to investigate
  • confirms the role
  • sets out timescales for the investigation to be completed
  • provides useful information on how exactly the investigation should be conducted and the various stages the investigating officer needs to go through
  • requires the production of an investigation report on conclusion of the investigation, which sets out the officer’s findings and recommendations.

Giving the investigating officer so much guidance at the outset by using our Letter Appointing a Disciplinary Investigation Manager will hopefully ensure that the investigation conducted - and the report produced - is thorough and done properly. This is particularly important if the manager appointed has little or no previous experience of conducting disciplinary investigations.