A domestic inquiry is a compulsory part of performance review. It is necessary to carry out a domestic inquiry when an employee is accused of serious misconduct, negligence, or other similar charges. An employee may have cause for complaint against his employer when he is dismissed without a proper domestic inquiry.
Read our article on who is an employee.
Domestic Inquiry – when you don’t have it
John, an employee of Company X, was accused by his employer of watching YouTube while on the job.
Understandably, John is much older than the other employees and cannot understand why they cannot let him watch a few fun videos while experiencing downtime.
The company’s administrative staff first send him a warning letter that John has been spotted watching YouTube funny videos while on the job.
One week later, a second warning letter arrives. John was spotted again, watching YouTube surreptitiously on his mobile, during a company meeting. John looks at the letter and groans.
Another week passes, and John receives his third letter. “You’ve been spotted watching YouTube while at work, and this is against company policy. We have no choice but to let you go.”
John feels dejected. He is unhappy. But still, he packs his bags and walk out the company doors.
John is deeply unhappy, and finds solace watching YouTube videos in the park.
One week later he meets Rita, a lawyer.
When Rita hears that John didn’t go through a domestic inquiry, she suggests that he had been deprived of the right to defend himself.
John, upset, agrees that he should take his case to the Industrial Court.
And so begins the journey of employer and employee through labour court litigation.
Why Domestic Inquiry is Important
Make no mistake. A domestic inquiry is important.
At a domestic inquiry, the employee is given the right to know, what the complaint against him is.
At a domestic inquiry, the employee also has the right to respond to the complaints.
These are interlinked, and very important.
Without knowing the charge (complaint), the employee cannot know how to respond to the complaint.
Without being able to respond to the complaint, it is unfair to the employee.
The employee who is deprived of this right, is not able to defend himself for his actions.
John, the employee accused of watching YouTube videos, may have been checking online on how to do his work. (Nowadays people tend to learn from YouTube.)
John would probably think, “I went to YouTube to try and learn how to do my job. But now I got fired because of it. Life is unfair to me.”
And a court might agree with that!
How to do a domestic inquiry.
Well, there are no cut-and-dried formulae on how to carry out a domestic inquiry.
But here are some ingredients for your recipe.
First, you’ll need a panel of people who will sit in during the domestic inquiry. These people act as judges, to decide whether the employee should be sacked or not.
Second, you’ll need a sheet of paper describing all the transgressions of the employee. This tells the employee, “You did this, and it’s not right.”
Third, you’ll need to give notice to the employee and the panel, about the time and date and venue of the domestic inquiry.
Fourth, there should be a “prosecutor” to press the charges during the domestic inquiry.
After the ingredients, here’s some things that need to happen.
On the day of hearing, the parties shall come together into the room.
The employee will be accused by the prosecutor. The prosecutor will present the charges against the employee. Evidence will be presented.
The employee will be given a chance to reply to the charges. He can indicate his agreement, or his disagreement.
The employee can defend himself if he disagrees with the charges.
Once the prosecutor and the employee have finished their portions, the panel of “judges” can ask for a short postponement to make their decision.
The employee and the prosecutor will have to leave the panel alone to make up their minds.
When the decision is delivered, it is binding. The employee will have to leave the company if the panel finds that the employee is “guilty” of the “charge”.