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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46180
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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There, My partner has had a false allegations of theft

Resolved Question:

Hi There,
My partner has had a false allegations of theft from the workplace and unauthorised selling of such items on eBay made against him.
In accordance with the employers procedures, they have suspended him immediately on full pay whilst an internal investigation takes place.
Firstly, the letter of suspension stated an 'independent investigation' would take place and instead they are conducting this internally which I find, odd - if they believe the theft to be true, surely the police should be involved or even an independent investigator appointed from outside the business to conduct this investigation fairly - after all, it could be someone internally that has set my partner up, please can you advise on this matter?
Please note that my partner has reported this to action Fraud just in case of identity theft and has co operated fully so far with the investigation by not using his eBay account/Paypal account or had any contact with any work colleagues at work as requested.
It seems that someone is using his postcode as an eBay account address to sell these items from which the company has immediately implicated my partner at fault with just a postcode...
He has request that the police be involved as he/we believe that once the police are bought into the matter, the eBay account holders details will be found and the real perpetrator found. However, the employer has refused to do this at this early stage and would 1st carry out internal investigations which we don't believe to be fair. Please can you advise?
My Partner is now being asked to attend an investigative meeting with little more than 24 hours notice and is wondering if a legal representative would be an unreasonable request as these allegations are false.
Please Help.
Many Thanks
Amanda
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has he worked there for?

Customer:

3 years on April 2015

Ben Jones :

ok thanks let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

First of all it is important to note that being placed on suspension is not an automatic assumption of guilt and does not amount to disciplinary action. It is there to be used as a precautionary measure whilst an employer investigates any allegations against the employee. Reasons for suspending could be in the case of gross misconduct, breakdown of relationship, risk to an employer's property, their clients or other employees, to preserve evidence or ensure it is not tampered with, avoid potential witnesses being pressured or intimidated, etc.

During the period of suspension the employer should conduct a reasonable investigation into the allegations against the employee. If the investigation gathers enough evidence to justify the taking disciplinary action that could be the next step. In that case the employee has the right to be informed in advance of the allegations against them and be given the opportunity to prepare for the hearing.

On the other hand, if the investigation does not find enough evidence to justify a disciplinary, the employer should terminate the suspension immediately and allow the employee to return to work as normal.

An independent investigation does not mean that an outside party has to conduct it – there is no legal requirement for an employer to involve a third party and they are legally entitled to use internal resources for this. Independent means no one who is involved in the allegations should be involved so that there is no bias.

Also there is no obligation on the employer to involve the police, either now or at any later stage – they can conduct their own investigation and take a decision based on their findings, without relying on any police evidence.

Finally, he is not allowed legal representation in an investigatory or a disciplinary hearing – this is not the same as a criminal trial, all he can do is bring in a colleague or a trade union rep.

Customer:

So what happens if he is disciplined and we want to contest, do we have rights?

Ben Jones :

yes you do, firstly he will be able to defend himself at any disciplinary hearing, then he can formally appeal the outcome if he does not agree with it, finally should he get dismissed he also has the option of making a claim for unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal

Customer:

At what point can we get the police involved?

Ben Jones :

you can't really, it is not for you to do that, he is not the one complaining of a criminal act, it would be for whoever the victim of the alleged crime is to get them involved

Customer:

When should we seek further legal advice as I feel he is being unfairly treated at present

Customer:

?

Ben Jones :

legal advice in these circumstances can only really be taken if he is dismissed and he is considering taking the natter further, there is little an employer can do with an internal investigation as they are not really allowed to interfere much

Customer:

did you mean employee then?

Ben Jones :

yes sorry

Ben Jones :

no I see what you mean

Ben Jones :

sorry it was meant to say lawyer, not employer

Customer:

So he feels victimised and defenceless at present so we don't know what to do?

Ben Jones :

the best is to cooperate with the investigation and see where the employer takes this - the further it goes the more rights he will get as the process becomes more formal, saying that they could also decide not to take any further and drop it if no sufficient evidence exists

Ben Jones :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Customer:

*on this

Customer:

sorry - if the investigation gets dropped due to insufficient evidence, this does not clear his name, he would want to clear his name so that he does not feel permenantly under watch and under suspicion

Customer:

can he insist it goes further in order to clear his name or insist on clarification in writing that he is no longer undersuspiciaon and name cleared of any allegations?

Customer:

he has just been refused to take a colleague into the investigative meeting - is this correct

Ben Jones :

no he cannot force his employer to take the matter further, if no formal action is taken then he is considered innocent as he has not been found guilty of anything, so even though allegations were initially made against him, the end to the investigation and no disciplinary means the matter comes to an end and he is considered innocent

Customer:

it will be the investigative officer, a member of HR and my partner only

Ben Jones :

he is not entitled to bring anyone with him to the investigatory meeting - the right only applies to a formal disciplinary hearing

Customer:

Ok, thank you for your help.

Customer:

is there grounds for compensation should this affect relationships at work and the intimidation that he has undergone

Ben Jones :

he cannot just make a claim for this, he would either have to be unfairly dismissed and win an unfair dismissal claim or feel he was forced to resign and claim and win a constructive dismissal claim, also I do not see that the employer has actually one anything wrong here - they have received an allegation against him and they are investigating it, it is what an employer is expected to do and even if the allegations are false they may not know that yet and must be given the opportunity to investigate this

Ben Jones :

I have to leave the office shortly, can I clarify anything else for you now before I go? I will be able to discuss any other questions later if you wanted to, once I get home

Customer:

No thank you for your help.

Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46180
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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