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Postpone a disciplinary hearing due to a police investigation?

In the case of North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust v Gregg, the Court of Appeal considered whether employers must postpone a disciplinary hearing when there is a police investigation being conducted alongside it.

The case

A doctor was suspended from his role whilst being investigated by the police and the British Medical Association. He had his medical registration and licence temporarily suspended by the professional disciplinary body and his employer sought to stop his pay.

The doctor was granted an injunction postponing any disciplinary proceedings until after the criminal investigation was concluded to prevent any breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

The Court of Appeal overturned the injunction as they were mindful that they did not wish to interfere with the ‘micro-management’ of the employer’s procedures and applied the two-fold test for breach of implied term of trust and confidence:

  1. Would the conduct seriously damage the employee-employer relationship?
  2. Was there reasonable and proper cause for such conduct?

The injunction was overturned, ruling that the doctor was entitled to full pay during his suspension but there was no requirement to postpone the disciplinary proceedings whilst the police investigated.

The Court of Appeal also confirmed that the disciplinary proceedings could have been bypassed due to the suspension by the professional disciplinary body and contractual terms.

The outcome

When an employee is subject to a police investigation, there is no legal requirement for disciplinary proceedings to be placed on hold unless such action would result in a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence.

Consideration should also be given to the contractual terms to establish whether the full disciplinary proceedings need to be adhered to.

Extreme care should be given when considering this approach and each case will be determined on their facts. Contact our employment lawyers for support on 01332 340 211.

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