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The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) has decided on a case regarding whether Human Resources (HR) advice can be sought during an investigatory procedure leading to dismissal. The question the EAT considered was “can a dismissing or investigating officer seek guidance from human resources?”

 

We may all think this an obvious ‘yes’ answer, but the EAT went a little further than the simple answer in this case, Ramphal v Department for Transport. It decided that advice given by HR should be limited to questions of procedure and not wander into areas of whether or not the person who is subject to a disciplinary procedure had done what they were accused of, or into areas of decision as to the sanction that would be appropriate.

 

The EAT found that there was evidence to support the employee’s appeal on grounds that HR had an “improper influence and the Employment Tribunal Judge should have given clear reasons for accepting there was no such evidence”.   The case was remitted to the original Employment Tribunal for a rehearing.

 

There is useful guidance at paragraph 56 where it states that the employee is entitled to assume that the decision will be taken by the appropriate disciplinary officer without being lobbied by other parties as to the findings or decisions he or she should make.

 

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