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Are there any limits on HR advice?

How much assistance can Human Resources properly give a manager responsible for dealing with a disciplinary hearing?

In short, HR can provide guidance and advice which should be limited to questions of law and procedure.  If HR interferes inappropriately in decisions as to the guilt of the employee or the appropriate sanction to impose it may make an otherwise fair dismissal unfair.

This was made clear by the EAT in a recent decision, Ramphal v Department for Transport.  In this case it was noted that drafts of the dismissing officer’s report into the employee’s alleged misconduct changed remarkably from early drafts (which suggested a warning might be appropriate), to the final version (which recommended the dismissal of the employee).   The evidence suggested that the amendments were introduced following the input of HR, rather than as a result of changing information for example.

The appeal against a finding of unfair dismissal was upheld and the case was listed to be heard again by the ET.

The drafts were subject to scrutiny as part of the disclosure process in the ET.  It is worth noting that communications between lawyers and their clients may be exempt from disclosure.

If you have a tricky disciplinary issue please feel free to contact us on 0191 282 2880 for a no obligation chat or email us if you require further advice.

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