Investigations, Hearings and Appeals
There are many components to a fair disciplinary or grievance process. If you’re not comfortable conducting investigations, hearings and appeals yourself, or are simply strapped for time, our seasoned HR specialists can offer on-site support to take the pressure off.
We can conduct the meetings for you or, if you prefer, attend them with you to provide expert guidance and reassurance. This is invaluable when experienced, independent HR support is needed.
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A formal grievance, disciplinary or capability procedure can be tricky and time-consuming. A complex misconduct matter, for example, could take several weeks to gather enough information and prepare for the meeting, and those responsible will need a working understanding of Acas guidelines and employment law in order to prevent costly mistakes.
With Ellis Whittam by your side, you can take the stress out of complicated HR procedures, minimise management burden and reduce legal risk.
- Discuss the matter with a dedicated HR expert to establish relevant background information
- Agree an assignment schedule based on the facts of the case and level of support you need
- Let skilled HR professionals conduct the investigation and hearing for you to ensure best practice
- Improve audit trails with bespoke document drafting, including investigation reports and outcome letters
- Get help handling any subsequent appeal, dealt with by a different Ellis Whittam consultant to ensure objectivity and fairness
Full process management backed up by support from in-house lawyers
If you take up our HR Consultancy services in conjunction with our fixed-fee Employment Law and HR support, your investigation report will be reviewed by a legally-qualified Employment Law specialist, who will help to ensure it protects your interests and advise you on the commercial outcome.
In the event of an appeal, your Employment Law Adviser will assess the grounds of appeal and advise you on the legal position – and, if you don’t want to act yourselves, this can be handled by a separate HR Consultant for ease and peace of mind.
"The advice we receive from the advisers at Ellis Whittham is comprehensive and easy to understand. We have a designated contact and the response time for all our HR issues and queries is excellent."
The Learning For Life Partnership
Common queries about our support with investigations, hearings and appeals, answered by our HR specialists.
Why might I need HR Consultancy support with investigations, hearings and appeals?
HR Consultancy can offer invaluable support when faced with people problems that you don’t feel capable of tackling yourself, or that you would prefer not to tackle yourself for whatever reason. For example, you might be dealing with a particularly complex issue that haven’t come across before, such as suspected fraud, or it may be a sensitive issue that is better dealt with my an independent professional. As well as helping to ensure these matters are managed appropriately, thereby reducing legal risk, leaning on an expert can greatly reduce the significant burden they can incur on management time.
How long would an investigation typically take?
A grievance or disciplinary investigation can take anything from three to five days to complete, though more complex matters may take longer than this. Where possible, we will provide you with a fixed cost for the investigation; if this is not possible due to not having the full details, we would normally give you an estimate of how long we believe the investigation stage will take.
How are the costs worked out?
Our HR Consultancy services are typically charged at a day rate. Once we have a summary of the case and know how many people are involved, we can normally establish how many days it will take to investigate. Based on this, and provided we have the information we need, we can normally give you a fixed-fee quote, though this may change depending on how the situation evolves.
What is the purpose of a grievance/disciplinary appeal hearing?
If an employee isn’t happy with the outcome of the grievance/disciplinary process, they may choose to appeal the decision. The purpose of the appeal hearing, therefore, is to examine the employee’s grounds of appeal and decide whether the outcome of the case was justified. For example, it may be that the employee feels the action taken against them was too harsh in the circumstances, or that it was inconsistent with action taken for similar offences. Importantly, the appeal is not an opportunity to submit more evidence. Your Ellis Whittam HR Consultant will help you to manage any appeals, from determining whether the employee has a genuine reason to appeal, to conducting the hearing for you.
I’d like our managers to be able to conduct the process, but they feel out of their depth.
While some people management issues can be dealt with informally, the prospect of carrying out a formal grievance or disciplinary procedure can be incredibly daunting if you don’t feel equipped to get it right. At Ellis Whittam, as well as doing the hard work for you, we can also help to develop your team so that you are better placed to manage these issues in future. Our HR experts can deliver practical Discipline & Grievance training, or individual coaching programmes exclusively to your organisation, to provide managers with an essential overview of best practice and employment law and develop their confidence in all aspects of the process.
I’m an Ellis Whittam Employment Law and HR client. What’s the process if I need HR Consultancy support?
If you’re a client and you face a grievance or disciplinary issue, you’ll have advice first from your usual small team of named Employment Law Advisers. In many cases, you will be able to resolve the issue or manage the process quickly and compliantly with their direction. However, if you feel you would benefit from more hands-on support, your adviser will introduce you to our HR Consultancy Team and provide the necessary background to the case. You will be matched with a suitably skilled consultant who can then take over the matter and will make contact with you to arrange the right support. The HR Consultant will continue to update your Legal Advisers throughout the process, including obtaining any appropriate legal advice.
What is the purpose of a disciplinary investigation report?
The purpose of an investigation report is to facilitate some sort of action based on the official findings it presents, whether that be a termination of employment, additional training, or some other form of corrective action. It should present the facts gleaned from the investigation, offer a conclusion as to whether there is a case to answer, and serve as a record of the steps of the investigation, demonstrating that it was thorough, fair and conducted in a timely manner. Importantly, while the investigator has to make some limited evaluations on the evidence to decide whether or not there is a case to answer, they should not suggest a possible sanction or prejudge the outcome in the report. That is a job for the disciplinary chair.
What happens after the investigation?
Once the investigation stage is complete, your HR Consultant will produce a full report, which will give a clear, logical overview of the investigation and contain the witness statements and evidence compiled by your consultant. This information can be passed on to the person managing the hearing stage, which we can also handle on your behalf using a separate consultant for impartiality.
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We do more than just investigations, hearings and appeals...
Looking to make changes within your organisation? If it will have a fundamental impact on the employment relationship, you have a duty to inform and consult with your employees first.
Whether you’re embarking on large-scale redundancies, considering making changes to employees’ terms and conditions or going through a transfer of ownership, our skilled HR specialists can conduct productive consultations with those affected to help you make informed, commercial decisions.
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Experts in Employment Law & HR
Why choose us?
At Ellis Whittam, we’re known for our bespoke service and the quality of our support. Not only is our expertise unmatched, but we take the time to know you so that we can function as a true extension of your team.
- Your own small team of dedicated experts
- Commercial, pragmatic advice tailored to you
- Bespoke contracts, policies and handbooks
- Trusted by over 35,000 organisations
- Recognised as a leading firm by the Legal 500
Who you'll be working with
Principal Employment Law Adviser
HR Consultancy Manager
“I’ve taken Ellis Whittam into every organisation that I’ve worked with. I’ve introduced them to many teams and many colleagues and referred them with absolute pleasure because I genuinely trust in the service that we get.”
Debbie Jamieson, People Director
“We get a great deal of comfort and satisfaction knowing that we have support as and when we need it, in a decisive and responsive way.”
Richard Berry, Group HR Director
Bluestone National Park Resort
“What we recognised in Ellis Whittam is the background that they have. They are able to supply knowledge and experience in a number of disciplines, which enables us to develop our business in a way that’s safe, to do it on time and with a quality to it.”
Debbie Rainbow, Director of Human Resources and Health & Safety
“As the company started to get larger, we knew we had to protect our employees and our contractors both onsite and in the offices. Ellis Whittam is exactly what we needed to move the company forward.”
Joanne Beaver, Operations Director
“We have found Ellis Whittam to be responsive and aligned with our business in terms of our processes and expectations. Their pragmatic approach has proven to be a great fit – nobody wants to be fighting their adviser on basic employment decisions.”
Jonathan Green, COO
“Ellis Whittam supports our 280 staff members with Employment Law and Health & Safety and has provided quality management training too.”
Lisa Best, Head of Service Delivery
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