The CBI has been rocked by accusations of rape and sexual misconduct. With its reputation in tatters, members leaving by the dozen, the organisation has had to suspend all activity until a vote on its future in June.
So what would you do for your organisation or business if an employee has been accused of a serious crime like rape? How do you get an outcome that helps your business and complies with the law?
Of course, if there is no reason to doubt the credibility of a report or complaint of rape or other serious crime on your premises, you should call in the police. When the police start an investigation, they will advise you as an employer not to take action against the employee.
If the employee has worked for you for over two years, they will have employment rights and cannot simply be arbitrarily sacked. Meanwhile, the police investigation could last for more than a year – and you are paying someone who may deserve to be in prison.
That is not good for business, other staff and your reputation.
The safest thing to do is to suspend the employee on full pay. At least, they would be out of the office, and well away from your clients. Although, that could be costly.
But there is another possible solution to this quandary that is legal – ignore the police. You can decide to mount your own disciplinary investigation that may find grounds for gross misconduct and then you can get rid of that employee.
What matters is you need to follow the right procedure. First of all, make sure that you do not interfere with the police investigation. Beyond that, you do not have to have the skills of a police detective but there is no legal restraint on you launching a disciplinary investigation.
You will need to:
• collect evidence – witness statements and any other documents
• send this to the employee, advising them that they may be dismissed after a hearing
• hold a hearing – the employee can bring their evidence
• make a decision based on the balance of evidence, not beyond reasonable doubt like a court would have to find.
An internal hearing can decide that gross misconduct has taken place, and the employee can be dismissed. This could be long before a trial has taken place, saving the company a great deal in money and reputation. If a trial then finds the employee not guilty of the crime, it has no impact on your decision to dismiss if you have followed a fair process.
You should also have grievance, disciplinary and appeals procedures. Your employees should know that if an employee has been the victim of poor treatment, he or she can take this up formally through the employer’s procedures.
Find out more about disciplinary and grievance procedures.