Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together some answers to the questions we most frequently get asked. Have a read through or simply click on a specific question to be taken directly to the answer. Of course, if you have a question that is not answered here, please do contact us and we’ll happily answer it!

Questions…

Employee Relations

  1. What are “employee relations”?
  2. How can you help with my employee relations?

Grievance & Disciplinary Investigations

  1. What sort of investigations do you do?
  2. Why is Acas compliance important?
  3. Why should we use an independent investigation service?
  4. How long does an investigation take?
  5. Will you attend appeals and tribunals?

General questions

  1. Which areas do you cover?
  2. What are your charges?

Employee Relations

Q&A

What are “employee relations”?

Within any business, there are several human resources functions involved. These include recruitment and selection, defining and implementing policies and processes, managing performance, managing change and organisational issues like restructuring, growth, establishing new locations or redundancies.

Employee relations are all about how you interact with your employees, how you manage the relationships between them and the business. As you can see, all of the areas listed above involve employee relations!

Q&A

How can you help with my employee relations?

There are three ways that we can assist you:

  1. Proactive consultation. We can work with you on reducing the probability and impact of employee relations issues. For example, if you are planning to make a change in the business or if you have some employee issues that you want to address. We can help you plan an approach to handling the matter in a way that minimises the impact on the relationship with the affected employees.
  2. Situation management. If you find yourself having to deal with an HR situation, we can help you manage it. We can provide advice to businesses without in-house HR expertise. In particular, we specialise in dealing with employee disputes, complaints, grievances and disciplinary issues.
  3. Learning and improvement. Once a situation has been dealt with, we can help you review what happened and what can be taken away from the experience. This could include things like improvement management training, revising policies and trying to avoid similar situations occurring in future.

Simply put, any time you have a situation that has the potential for conflict or a negative impact on employee relations, give us a call. We’re here to help!


Grievance & Disciplinary Investigations

Q&A

What sort of investigations do you do?

We carry out workplace investigations and the most common of these are grievance investigations. These arise when an employee makes a formal complaint to HR (i.e. “raises a grievance”). Another example would be an investigation into a disciplinary matter that has been brought to HR attention. Basically, we can investigate any work-related situation where evidence, allegations and narratives need to be evaluated and a decision reached.

The purpose of the investigation is to determine, based on the balance of probabilities, what the facts of the matter are. We will then produce an outcome document containing our findings. We conduct all our investigations in compliance with the Acas guidelines to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Why is Acas compliance important?

The Acas guidelines describe how workplace investigations can be conducted in a manner that is fair and balanced. Complying with these guidelines shows that your investigation was conducted impartially and delivered an outcome that is reasonable, rational and fair.

An employee who raises a grievance or is subject to a disciplinary investigation will have a lot invested in the outcome. They may find it hard to accept an outcome that finds against them, no matter how fairly the investigation was conducted.

Some individuals, therefore, may decide to take the matter to an Employment Tribunal.

Employment Tribunals expect investigations to have complied with the Acas guidelines. If not, and if the Tribunal finds against the company, this could increase any financial award to the complainant by up to 25%!

In summary, Acas compliance both protects the individual by helping ensure fairness and protects the company against increased awards by tribunals.

Why should we use an independent investigation service?

You are under no obligation to use an independent investigator. If you have someone within your workforce who can act as an appropriate investigator, you are free to use them. However, it is important that the investigation is impartial both in reality and perception. Your choice of investigator should not compromise that perception.

Therefore, an investigator should have no involvement in the situation being investigated or any relationship with the persons who are. This might be difficult to achieve with an internal investigator if the situation involves very senior members of staff and/or the workforce population is small.

Further, interviewing a senior manager or executive might be uncomfortable for a regular employee. Stakeholders in the investigation might be concerned that this discomfort would influence the outcome.

Finally, an investigator needs both the time and experience to conduct the investigation in a diligent and thorough manner. Finding an internal investigator from within the workforce that satisfies all the above criteria can be challenging and that’s where an independent investigator can help you.

How long does an investigation take?

The overall time taken for an investigation to complete depends upon a number of factors, for example:

  1. How complex is the overall situation?
  2. How much evidence needs to be gathered and analysed?
  3. Are the persons to be interviewed cooperative and available?

In addition, we will need to process all the interview notes, evidence and witness statements to make a determination before we can formally document the outcome. It may be useful to refer to our investigation process to see what’s involved. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to accurately predict how long this process will take.

However, we understand that people still like to get a “ballpark” figure. For a straightforward case then based on our experience, we would estimate at least two hours per interviewee. This includes one hour for the interview and one for documenting and evaluating the notes. In addition, at least one full working day will be needed to analyse the evidence and another to write up the formal outcome. Except in the simplest of cases, it’s rare for a grievance investigation process to take less than ten man hours.

This is all based on actual activity and does not include the passage of real time due to scheduling issues, e.g. making appointments for people to attend interviews and so on.

Will you attend appeals and tribunals?

Whenever we have investigated a situation we are always willing to attend hearings, appeals and Employment Tribunals. Our attendance at these sessions would normally be at the same hourly rate quoted for your investigation. This is based on overall time spent at the tribunal or appeal venue. We do not normally charge for travelling expenses unless there is a substantial distance involved or an overnight stay required to attend the venue. This would be negotiated separately.


General Questions

What areas do you cover?

We are located in Wokingham, west of London and close to the three borders of Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire. This means that we can cover a wide commutable area across the South East and London. Engagements further away can be handled with prior arrangement.

What are your charges?

We charge by the hour and so the total cost of our services will be subject to the overall duration of the engagement. It’s hard to accurately quote for that in advance (for example, see the previous question about how long an investigation may take). We only charge for time spent engaged on your matter and all invoices will include a detailed breakdown of where the chargeable time has been spent.

We’re pleased to note that previous clients have informed us that our hourly rates are extremely competitive! You can always contact us and discuss your requirements without any obligation and we can go over the charging structure with you.

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