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Investigations: a case study

The Challenge

One of our large manufacturing clients was experiencing a number of disciplinary hearings failing to proceed as one would expect.  HR believed this was due to the poor quality of the investigations being conducted by managers and this was confirmed by Menzies Law when we examined the investigation process and practice.  As a result, an already busy HR team had to be heavily involved with managing the consequences of these poorly conducted investigations with the inherent cost  time and risk implications of doing so.


The client was using senior managers who were otherwise competent in their particular functional areas (e.g. sales or manufacturing) to carry out disciplinary investigations.  Those managers had not been trained in investigations and did not fully understand what they were supposed to be doing to make an investigation a robust one. The investigations that were carried out would not have stood up to scrutiny in the Employment Tribunal, leaving the disciplinary managers in some difficulties when assessing how best to proceed.

What needed to happen?

The company needed to develop a group of managers who were trained, competent and confident in carrying out investigations.  HR had to be less involved as they did not have the time and resources to do so (plus investigations being the role of their managers, the business wanted to be sure this was both clear to them and that they were investing in the skills of their staff).

What did we do?

We worked with our client to draft a simple “how to” guide to managers on how to carry out investigations.  This included specimen letters, scripts  and forms. We then developed a bespoke training programme with the HR team incorporating both the company’s disciplinary procedure and the investigation guide. We worked with one of our long term Associates (an experienced HR consultant) to develop and deliver a training programme to the managers on the legal framework that relates to investigations.  This included practical advice on how to carry out investigations effectively.  Additionally we conducted a number of role plays to allow managers to practice and deal with ‘real life’ situations that might arise in the course of an investigation.


Managers’ confidence in dealing with investigations as well as the overall standard of the conduct of investigations improved considerably. This meant that the HR team were spending far less time intervening, allowing them to focus on more added-value HR matters and when they did become involved HR trusted that the manager had properly conducted their investigation.  One important outcome for our client was that with the improved robustness of their investigations they became much more convinced that the hearing outcomes would stand up to scrutiny should an Employment Tribunal arise.

If you’d like to know more about conducting investigations or need an investigation conducted please see more information here or call us on 0117 325 0526

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