A frequent question we are asked relates to the appropriate level of investigation in misconduct cases. Would a Tribunal expect to see the same level of investigation even if the misconduct is admitted?
In short, no, once misconduct is admitted an employer is not required to investigate further in order for the dismissal to be fair. This was re-confirmed in the recent EAT case of Manor Oak (PMG) Ltd v Kelly .
Mr Kelly was a service technician and MOT tester for Manor Oak garage. He was found to have passed a car through an MOT when he should have failed it. He was dismissed for negligence after accepting responsibility for the mistake at the disciplinary hearing. The Employment Tribunal found the dismissal to be unfair on the basis that Manor Oak’s belief in Mr Kelly’s guilt was not on reasonable grounds (despite the admissions by Mr Kelly). The Tribunal said that Manor Oak took into account a witness’s evidence that the damage was deliberate and proceeded on this premise.
the EAT allowed the appeal of Manor Oak. In relation to Mr Kelly’s admission and the impact this had on the appropriate level of investigation they said ‘Manor Oak discharged the onus of showing that they genuinely believed that he had committed the misconduct, that they had reasonably grounds to hold that belief and had carried out a reasonable investigation before reaching their conclusion. Once the admissions were made …. they plainly did not require to take their investigations further. They were, in particular, not required to investigate how serious the default was.’