HR are often involved in disciplinary investigations, but it is crucial that HR limits advice to questions of law, procedure and process and avoids straying into areas of culpability. HR should not be seeking to influence the outcome of an investigation, which could potentially compromise the fairness of the process. (Ramphal v Department of Transport)
In this case, there were questions raised concerning Mr Ramphal’s expense claims. Mr Goodchild, who was conducting the investigation, had not conducted an investigation previously and sent the first draft of his report to HR. He had initially found that Mr Ramphal’s explanations were plausible and that he should be given a final warning. The report went back and forth for six months, by which time the recommended sanction was dismissal for gross misconduct. The EAT found that HR had involved themselves in issues of culpability which should have been reserved for Mr Goodchild, and that they should have limited themselves to questions of law and process.
It is clear that HR must limit their involvement in disciplinary investigations to advising on process, not on outcomes.