Tips for Best Practice Investigations
Investigations are becoming more and more commonplace in organisations within the areas of Grievance, Discipline, Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment. Thus, there is greater pressure on those who conduct investigations to ensure that the entire process is carried out correctly and effectively.
Each party must be notified of all of the details of the Investigation including the time and place of the Investigation as well as naming the nominated Investigator. All of the documents must be in place for each individual in advance of the Investigation and sufficient time must be given to the individuals who are participating in the Investigation to prepare. The documentation should also inform them of their right to be represented, usually either by a colleague or a Trade Union representative.
The Investigation Meeting
At the outset the Investigator should repeat to the attendees that all of their discussions are confidential; save for the fact that some of the issues they raise may need to be put to the other side. They should be told again of their opportunity for representation. They should also be informed that the Investigation process will embody full observance of the Rules of Natural Justice.
In meetings with those attending the Investigation the Investigator should:
- Repeat the information in respect of the Rules of Natural Justice
- Listen really well and take notes
- Regularly check their understanding of the issues
- Probe areas where they need more information
- Check that the individual has nothing else to add
- Check that the individual believes that the Investigation was conducted in a fair manner.
The important tasks for the Investigator to complete following the Investigation are:
- Write Minutes as accurately as possible
- Forward same to each attendee seeking their agreement and sign off
- Meet separately with or speak with those who have been at the Investigation to clarify if anything arises from the Minutes or their observations on process
- Reflect on all of the issues raised in the Investigation and formulate
- Draft the Investigation Report which should include Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations/Determinations and send same to the principals involved for comment
- Hear their views and modify if necessary the Draft Report so that it becomes the Final Report.
- Submit this Final Report to the principals and the organisation.
If those conducting investigations follow the simple steps outlined above they could be content in the knowledge that they are adhering to Best Practice guidelines.