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This article was published on April 20th, 2015
How much investigation is it reasonable to carry out where misconduct is alleged? It’s a question every employer asks from time to time because a great deal hinges on what is discovered, and what could be discovered, by carefully looking into all the circumstances. And employers know just how important it is to reach the right conclusions. In Shrestha v Genesis the employee argued that his employer hadn’t done enough.
Mr Shrestha was a mobile worker; he travelled by car to visit clients in their homes and he submitted mileage claims. When his claims were audited, it was suspected that he had been over-claiming. At his disciplinary hearing he explained that the high mileage was due to difficulties in parking, one-way road systems and roadworks.
The employer did not put each specific journey to Mr Shrestha and analyse the purported reasons for the additional mileage. Each journey was above the AA suggested mileage and it didn’t seem plausible, the employer said, that they could all be justified in the way Mr Shrestha had sought to do. He was dismissed.
Mr Shrestha lost his unfair dismissal claim. The employer’s investigation was reasonable, the Court of Appeal held. While an employer must consider every defence the employee puts forward, the extent to which these must each be investigated depends on the circumstances. An employer’s reasonableness should be assessed by looking at the investigation as a whole.
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