The EAT recently confirmed the boundaries for HR advice during internal disciplinary matters. (Ramphal v Department for Transport UKEAT/0352/14/DA)
The EAT indicated that “an Investigating Officer is entitled to call for advice from Human Resources; but Human Resources must be very careful to limit advice essentially to questions of law and procedure and process and to avoid straying into areas of culpability, let alone advising on what was the appropriate sanction as to appropriate findings of fact in relation to culpability insofar as the advice went beyond addressing issues of consistency. It was not for Human Resources to advise whether the finding should be one of simple misconduct or gross misconduct.”
Furthermore then went on to state that, “an employee facing disciplinary charges and a dismissal procedure is entitled to assume that the decision will be taken by the appropriate officer, without having been lobbied by other parties as to the findings he should make as to culpability, and that he should be given notice of any changes in the case he has to meet so that he can deal with them, and also given notice of representations made by others to the Dismissing Officer that go beyond legal advice, and advice on matter of process and procedure.”
So how does a business support its inexperienced managers in dealing with a disciplinary and also maintain consistency of decisions?
How does a business ensure that decisions taken are fair and reasonable in accordance with Employment law?
While HR officers cannot give advice on particular cases, they can give information on practice and procedure which must include information on previous cases and outcomes.
The key will be to present the information in a way that does not fall foul of Ramphal.
Jurit offers a two part workshop:
– We will work with your HR team on considering what information should be collated for information packs for disciplining officers and how to deal with requests for support.
– We will provide training for your managers on their responsibilities and more importantly what questions to ask of HR. We will provide real examples of cases and work with your managers on reaching fair and reasonable solutions.
While you cannot advise your managers on the right outcome, we can. We can set up a disciplinary helpline for your managers to access. We will work with you to understand your business and how you want to operate. We will discuss with your HR team how they want to deal with disciplinary matters and we will ensure our commercial advice to your managers on ongoing disciplinary matters is aligned with your business needs.