Sunshine Hotel v Goddard: Unfair dismissal: Investigation meeting 

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that there can be circumstances where, when considering misconduct, a separate investigatory and disciplinary hearing is not required.

In this case, the tribunal considered if the organisation, had conducted a ‘proper investigation’ into the claimants conduct and ultimately concluded they had not done. This was because there was no investigation meeting; the claimant had been invited to what he thought was one, but it turned out to actually be the disciplinary hearing.

Calling this a ‘serious procedural failing’, the tribunal asserted that the claimant had been denied a ‘basic employment right’ as a result of this as he had not been provided the opportunity of providing a full explanation before his case proceeded to a disciplinary.

However, the EAT did note that neither section 98 of the ERA, nor the ACAS Code, required there to be a separate investigation meeting and disciplinary hearing in every case. Provided the organisation has acted reasonably in its investigation, and taken steps to establish the facts, failure to hold an investigation meeting does not, on its own, render a dismissal unfair.

Note for employers: 

Despite common belief, this case confirms it is not always necessary to hold an investigatory meeting before proceeding to a disciplinary hearing, however this will always be very fact specific.

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