Standard of Proof in Misconduct

Heard of the term ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ before? The simple meaning to this is in a criminal case, the prosecutor has to establish his case beyond a single doubt otherwise the accused will not be punished. It goes to show that because one’s livelihood is at stake in criminal cases, until and unless the prosecutor successfully proves his case without a doubt, the accused will be innocent. 

I mentioned the word ‘criminal’ above. For employment matters, we are not using the same standards used in a criminal case. The standard of proof for employment related matters is based on a balance of probabilities. For example, at a domestic inquiry, the prosecutor only needs to prove that it is ‘more probable’ that the accused employee had committed such act(s) of misconduct. 

There is always a danger when HR gets internal panel members and fail to train them on the difference between both standards. Many at times, panel members (probably as a result of too much legal drama) are seeking for a 100% (beyond reasonable doubt) when it is not necessary to do so. If this is not communicated clearly, the Company might be at a losing end.

As a suggestion, HR should have a standard topic on this area for each and every person who are or will be panel members for the Company.