How to investigate a disciplinary matter

No one outside of Westminster had heard of Sue Gray, until recent weeks.  Now her investigation may lead to high profile disciplinary proceedings. How would I have conducted this investigation?


Is this a disciplinary issue?

According to news reports, there have been several events at 10 Downing Street, which may have broken lockdown rules.  Among the many allegations, staff were invited to a “bring your own booze” event.

If I were charged with investigating this, I would look at:

  • What was said in the invite?
  • What were the rules at the time?
  • Did this contravene the rules?
  • Who sent the invite?
  • Who else was aware the invite was being sent?
  • Did anyone suggest the invite was ill-advised?
  • If so, what action was taken?
  • What is the normal policy on drinking at work?
  • Should disciplinary proceedings be considered and if so, for whom?


Interview the key parties

There may be an explanation why the invite was issued.  For instance, the sender may have been following instructions from above.  I’d also want to understand what they knew about the rules at the time and why they thought it was acceptable.  Did anyone raise concerns and if so, what happened as a result?

Several people have said they questioned the invite.  Some people attended the event.  Individuals should be interviewed to understand:

  • If they raised concerns, how, when and to whom did they raise their concerns?
  • What was the reaction?
  • Did they go to the event? If so, what happened there?
  • Who else was present?
  • Were any COVID precautions taken at the event?

If the matter reaches a disciplinary hearing, the employee(s) concerned should get copies of the witness statements. For that reason, I would ask the witness to sign to say it is a true and accurate account and that they understand it may be shared as part of the process.


What evidence can you gather?

It is also important to check for any factual evidence, such as:

  • CCTV footage
  • Emails, etc
  • Attendance records
  • Company documents

I would give the employee(s) copies of any evidence I found prior to any hearing. This would include any evidence that may support their defence.


Next steps

If I found that a disciplinary proceedings were appropriate, I would hand this over to someone else to hear.  This is to ensure the outcome is not prejudged, as per the ACAS Code of Practice.

To invite someone to a hearing I would need to:

  • Give them reasonable written notice of the hearing date.
  • Advise them they have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative.
  • Give them copies of the evidence gathered.

For more information or to discuss a disciplinary situation, please contact me.

Categories Disciplinary, Staff Performance, Uncategorized