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Be aware that a complaint is not always the event that triggers a company's duty to investigate. That duty arises when an employer observes something, an act or statement, that suggests some kind of prohibited activity or when an employee complains about virtually any aspect of the employment relationship.
The most frequently raised concerns deal with harassment, discrimination and bullying but whatever the complaint, recent legal decisions have made it clear that employers have a duty to investigate promptly and thoroughly as soon as the employer is put on notice of possible wrongdoing.
Follow this link to read more about cases where investigations have been critical to the employers' defence (http://bit.ly/ruiwJ2)
Employers must ensure they distinguish between an investigation and any subsequent disciplinary proceedings. Separate meetings must be held for both. Even if an employee admits guilt during an investigatory interview, a further disciplinary meeting must still be convened in order that the employee can have an opportunity to state his/her case and possibly present evidence to explain any mitigating factors.
Once it's clear that an investigation is warranted, give careful thought to who should conduct the investigation. The same individual is not going to be right for every company investigation. In fact, multiple investigators could be useful in highly complex cases, or where timing is critical. Give consideration to the positions and authority of the complainant and accused; any perception of bias a proposed investigator might be perceived to have by witnesses; and potential impacts on business operations. Generally, a good investigator must actively listen, be able to process and rapidly respond to new information, possess critical thinking skills, and have a solid knowledge of company policies and practices. Other technical qualifications will depend on the type or complaint at issue. For example, an accounting background might be necessary for charges of financial mismanagement.
Once an Investigating Officer has been appointed, from the outset, he/she must be clear
• The reason for the investigation;
• The relevant policy and procedure under which the investigation is being
• The precise issues to be investigated;
• How the investigation will be conducted;
• The proposed time frame;
• All resources available to the investigator; and
• All key and relevant evidence.
Planning from the outset will ensure that the Investigating Officer has a clear focus upon how the investigation will be carried out.
Employers should respond promptly, thoroughly and in a systematic manner when conducting investigations if they are to avoid future liability.
If you would like to talk to someone about a situation that you are currently facing that you feel may require investigating calls us now for a free consultation 0844 249 1133Tags: complaint, HR disciplinary investigations Lancashire, HR Consultant Lancashire, Investigations Lancashire, disciplinary investigations, investigations, workplace investigation