Workplace Investigations Ireland & Fair Procedures

Workplace Investigations Process

Employees in the workplace in Ireland are evidently concerned when they have to attend a workplace investigation, especially so if they receive a letter from an employer which indicates the allegation against the employee concerns gross misconduct.

The employee may never have faced a workplace investigation meeting before, and has no idea what to expect.

A workplace investigation process is evidently not a court setting, but it is nevertheless correct to say that it is of the utmost importance to seek to establish the truth of factual events in an investigation process.

Frankly some workplace investigations can take place which have all the hallmarks of an ambush.

Invitations to investigation meetings should set out in clear simple terms the allegations to the employee. This commonly does not happen.

Instead an employee receives notification there has been a breach of company regulations, for example, but the employers disclose no detail to the employee in the invitation letter that would provide the employee with an understanding of the date, time, place etc. when the alleged facts took place.

The employee then attends an investigation meeting and is presented with allegations that the investigators have given much thought and consideration you.

It is then difficult for this employee to gather their thoughts, and defend themselves adequately as they may be in shock as to the serious charge of misconduct.

Workplace Investigations and Fair Procedures

Workplace Investigations must be conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice and fairness. Employees have a constitutional right and an implied contractual right to natural justice and fair procedures.

Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures Order 2000

The Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures Order 2000 seen here provides a good guide regarding what fairness in terms of an investigation should look like.

Within the Code it states: The essential elements of any (workplace) procedure for dealing with grievance and disciplinary issues are that they be rational and fair, that the basis for disciplinary action is clear, that the range of penalties that can be imposed is well-defined and that an internal appeal mechanism is available.

Employees have a constitutional and implied contractual rights to fair procedures and natural justice when faced with an investigation meeting. If an employer does not adhere to natural justice and fair procedures, the employee can make a charge against the employer that their procedure was fundamentally flawed.

The following principles from the Code are helpful touchpoints for an employee to understand and assess regarding their own investigation meeting.

•    That employee grievances are fairly examined and processed;
•    That details of any allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned;
•    That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to respond fully to any such allegations or complaints;
•   That the employee concerned is given the opportunity to avail of the right to be represented during the procedure;
•   That the employee concerned has the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account any representations made by, or on behalf of, the employee and any other relevant or appropriate evidence, factors or circumstances.

Disclaimer – Workplace Investigations & Fair Procedures

Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute. Legal advice should be sought from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.

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