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Ramphal v Department for Transport UKEAT/0352/14; (2015) EMPLR 061
4 September 2015
Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
HHJ Serota QC
may provide advice and guidance to managers about how to conduct disciplinary
investigations but should be careful not to try and influence the outcome,
according to the EAT.
appointed to conduct the investigation into R’s alleged misconduct, and act as
dismissing officer if necessary, was inexperienced. While preparing his report,
he received advice from the HR department. The advice was not just about the
appropriate procedure. It drew attention to matters which might have had a
bearing onR’s credibility and level of culpability. The first draft of the report prepared by the
manager contained some
findings favourable to
R, but after communication with HR further drafts of the report became more
critical and the final draft recommended summary dismissal. Favourable conclusions no longer appeared.
summarily dismissed. An employment tribunal found the dismissal fair. The EAT
considered the tribunal had not adequately considered whether the advice from
the HR department amounted to improperly attempting to influence the outcome
and, if it did, whether it had materially influenced the dismissing officer.
The case was sent back to the same employment judge. The EAT pointed out that
an employee facing disciplinary charges and a dismissal procedure is entitled
to expect that the decision will be taken by the appropriate officer, without
lobbying by otherspressing for particular conclusions. An
employee should be given notice of any changes in the case he has to meet so
that he can deal with them.
Comment: This seems unrealistic. Would an HR department be
doing its job if, on being asked to comment on an investigator’s report, it
failed to point out evidence that appeared to have been overlooked or the
significance of matters which the investigator may have missed?