Domestic Inquiry definition
An employer-led investigation aimed at discovering facts and information about a situation in which an employer has accused an employee of misconduct. A domestic inquiry typically follows a ‘show cause’ letter, which is sent to the employee requesting an explanation for the alleged misconduct. If the response is not satisfactory, the employer will move to the more formal domestic inquiry.
Domestic inquiry should be carried out as soon as possible following accusations of misconduct and all activities should be formalised and recorded in full. Legally it is important than the investigation be carried out objectively – the investigating officers, for example, should be unconnected to the incident, and the employee should be given full opportunity to state their own case and present evidence in their favour. Union representatives or colleagues should be allowed to sit in during the process if the employer requests their presence, although the employee can’t insist on legal representation.
Note that the domestic inquiry is purely an information-gathering exercise i.e. the panel tasked with gathering the evidence do not make decisions over guilt or punishment. Their final report is sent to the relevant parties, often senior leaders, who then decide on the appropriate course of action.