Top Tips for Carrying out an Employee Investigation

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investigation report
Managers are likely to get involved in investigating an issue of concern regarding employees. This may be either because an employee has raised a grievance about something they are unhappy about or the business have identified something of concern they need to investigate involving an employee.

Here are five tips to help you stay on the right side of the law when conducting your next investigation –
  1. What is the point of conducting an investigation?
    To determine the facts that surround the issue. Where an issue can be resolved informally, i.e. speaking to the individual concerned, then there’s little merit in going overboard and conducting an investigation.
  2. What should be investigated?
    Details that surround the allegation should be investigated, i.e. speak to witnesses, review CCTV, and review records. Don’t just look for evidence to show the employee is guilty and a breach has occurred but look at avenues which may lead the investigation to show the breach didn’t happen.
  3. How long should it take?
    Investigations should not take long at all. An investigation should commence as soon as it is apparent the issue is potentially serious and can’t be resolved informally. Whilst it can take time to review records or speak to witnesses there should be no undue delay. This could mean evidence is lost, can’t be remembered by witnesses as time has moved on.
  4. Who should conduct the investigation?
    Usually the line manager of the employee should conduct the investigation as they are closest to that person, team and would have knowledge about the incident. However, important to note that the person who conducts the investigation is not always appropriate to hear any potential disciplinary or appeal that may be the outcome following the investigation.
  5. Does the employee have the statutory right to be accompanied or represented at investigation meetings?
    An investigation meeting is a fact finding exercise and an employee does not have the statutory right to be accompanied at these meetings. They would if they then faced a disciplinary hearing. However, an employer should not unreasonably refuse an employee to be accompanied or represented at such meetings. The employee may be nervous or not be able to speak English.
At the end of the investigation, a report should be compiled with all the witness statements and evidence that was considered with recommendations on next steps, i.e. disciplinary action recommended or the outcome of the grievance.

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