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How should employers conduct investigations into senior employees?

24 August 2023

Our Partner Hina Belitz has been interviewed for the Legal 500's In house Magazine discussing how to properly investigate senior employees; a difficult topic and a highly political one at most organisations. It is a regulatory minefield and one it is important to get right, as an employer, to avoid significant liability. We have reproduced some of Hina's comments below, but recommend taking a look at the whole article and points from other lawyers also at the link here.

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Hina Belitz, a partner at Excello Law, says: ‘if a complaint or concern is properly investigated, assessed, and dealt with, it can alleviate liability for an employer should the matter progress to court’.

Belitz gives the example of the ‘reasonable steps defence’ in relation to allegations of sexual harassment, whereby ‘an employer can argue it took all “reasonable steps” to prevent an instance or further instances of harassment taking place.’ An external investigation could be seen as one such reasonable step.

As Belitz points out, ‘turning a blind eye to errant senior executives may later result in the company being held up as a public pariah which has let its employees down and enabled the growth of a toxic workplace culture’.

Belitz counsels that companies and their in-house teams bear in mind that the level of investigation ‘should be sufficient to enable: (a) the chair of any subsequent disciplinary hearing to form reasonable grounds for believing or disbelieving the allegations against the employee; and (b) the case to be put to the employee [under investigation] in a manner that makes it clear what is being alleged.’

‘The invitation to a disciplinary hearing’, says Belitz, ‘is often the point at which “without prejudice” settlement discussions begin between the parties. It is compelling for anyone facing disciplinary proceedings, especially a senior executive with much to lose, to consider a quiet departure on mutually agreed terms as an alternative in place of a disciplinary record that would blight their career’.


We hope you find these comments helpful. Do reach out to Hina on the details below, should you wish to find out more about how effective investigations training could help your business.

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excello law partners employment lawyers londonPartners Employment Lawyers is not a firm of solicitors. Members of Partners Employment Lawyers are consultants at Excello Law Limited and legal services are provided by Excello Law Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA number 652733.
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