Jeremy Stacks was employed by Steamers Inc.  A manager noticed an anomaly in the business records for Steamers Inc which could be traced back to Jeremy.

During a conversation with the manager, Jeremy accepted that he was aware of the anomaly and agreed that it was of his doing.  A formal disciplinary investigation meeting was subsequently convened and, among other matters, Jeremy’s admission to the manager was taken into account.

A similar factual scenario was recently considered by the Employment Relations Authority where the employee was dismissed, and subsequently raised a personal grievance for unjustified dismissal including allegations that proper process had not been followed by the employer.

The employer responded in brief: arguing that because the employee had admitted to the alleged misconduct, the need to follow normal disciplinary process fell away.

The ERA agreed in general with the employer – observing that where an employee admits he or she did the act being investigated, depending on the circumstances, that admission may well remove the need for further investigation of the allegation by the employer.

The relevant circumstances can be summarised as those where following the exact requirements of the disciplinary process would make no difference to the knowledge that both the employee and employer had at the disciplinary investigation meeting.

The ERA noted further that, even where it may be that there is no need for further investigation, this does not allow the employer to ignore its other obligations in deciding on the appropriate course of action in the circumstances – e.g. the right to a support person.

Of course, simply accepting and using an ‘admission’ by an employee as the sole basis upon which to justify a disciplinary outcome could open the way for a costly personal grievance down the track.  As the ERA observed, each case will depend in its own circumstances.

If you need assistance with a disciplinary process, even one which seems black and white, feel free to call me for an initial relaxed and confidential chat.