As any employer who has carried out an internal employment investigation will know, the stakes are often high and the risks can be daunting. This is especially so in a fragile economic climate and when those involved may be conducting their investigations quite differently due to COVID-19.
Some of the risks are more obvious than others. If an employer is hoping to rely on an investigation to show grounds for dismissal, and that investigation is clearly flawed, there is a very real risk of unfair dismissal. Similarly, if an investigation is conducted in such a way as to undermine trust and confidence in the employment relationship, employees may resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.
Further, if employees allege they have been singled out or treated differently because of a protected characteristic or the fact that they blew the whistle, this brings the possibility of uncapped employer liability.
Employers must also navigate their way through applicable data protection and privacy restrictions when planning and implementing an investigation.
Finally, depending on the nature of the issues under investigation and the people involved, there may well be significant employee or public relations considerations.
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