The Court of Appeal has ruled that the requirement that an employer carry out a reasonable investigation into allegations of misconduct (in order for any subsequent dismissal to be fair) will not always require doing everything possible to investigate every explanation put forward by an employee.
In Shrestha v Genesis Housing it was alleged that the employee had submitted expense claims for mileage almost double the distance travelled as suggested by on-line route-planners. The employee argued that the mileage was accurate and explained by parking restrictions, one-way road systems and traffic diversions. He claimed that his dismissal was unfair because the employer had not driven the same journeys and checked the parking, nor confirmed what diversions were in place with the local council. The employer had relied on the extent to which every journey exceeded that estimated by the online route planners and what the employee had claimed for the same journeys previously, and had concluded that it was not plausible that there was a legitimate explanation for each and every journey. The Court of Appeal ruled that in the circumstances the investigation was reasonable as a whole, notwithstanding that the employer did not look at each journey in detail.
An employer must of course consider any defences advanced by the employee, but whether and to what extent it is necessary to carry out specific inquiry into them will depend on the circumstances as a whole. It would be prudent to record the reasons why any particular avenue of enquiry has not been pursued.