The Investigation Process

Our investigations follow a process flow that is designed to comply with ACAS guidelines. The overall flow of a workplace investigation we conduct is as follows:

STEP 1: Initiation

This step is typically carried out by HR professionals within the organisation itself prior to engaging us. It starts when a situation is brought to the attention of HR that might require further action.

  1. Decide whether the situation warrants an investigation
  2. Determine the scope of the investigation
  3. Choose who will conduct the investigation

STEP 2: Preparation

Once we are engaged, we will partner with your HR professionals on drawing up the investigation strategy. This will follow the outline steps below:

  1. Review relevant company policies as applicable to the situation
  2. Review the available materials relating to the situation, i.e. correspondence between the parties involved and any supporting evidence or documentation.
  3. Determine what evidence still needs to be gathered
  4. Identify which persons may need to interviewed as part of the investigation
  5. Draft an investigation plan based on the above

STEP 3: Conduct investigation interviews

Where possible, we recommend that interviews are conducted in a private meeting room within the individual’s usual place of work. We also strongly recommend that interviews are always conducted face to face, especially with interviewees that are central to the investigation. Where it is genuinely impractical to meet in person, an interview can be conducted via a conference call.

  1. Plan interview strategy for each interviewee
  2. Establish who can accompany individuals to interviews
  3. Schedule interviews for the attendees
  4. Manage any refusals or reluctance to participate

STEP 4: Collate and review evidence

In addition to evidence provided with the original materials at the start of this process, it is not unusual for information to come to light during the interviews that suggests other items of evidence that should be gathered.

  1. Collect relevant records, documentation, communications, etc..
  2. Collect any relevant physical evidence, e.g. CCTV, photographs or other recordings.
  3. Gather any witness statements, i.e. those given outside the interview process

STEP 5: Document the outcome

Once the active phase of the investigation has concluded (i.e. all the interviews have been completed, all available evidence considered and any open questions addressed) we produce a comprehensive and detailed report with our findings and, where appropriate, any recommendations. This typically includes:

  1. An overview of the situation being investigated
  2. A section addressing each component of the investigation
  3. Findings and recommendations as appropriate

STEP 6: Communicate and close the investigation

Once we have completed the report, it will be delivered back to the company HR professional working with us. They would then handle the onward communication and delivery of the report to the relevant stakeholders.

  1. Deliver the investigation report to the stakeholders
  2. Evaluate and implement any findings or recommendations
  3. Retain the report for only as long as is necessary

NOTE: Anticipate and manage any appeals

In most cases, individuals may have the right to appeal against the outcome of an investigation. For example, if a grievance is not upheld then the employee raising that grievance may wish to appeal against that finding.

There must be reasonable grounds for an appeal. For example, that new evidence has come to light or that the investigation missed some key area. The appeal must also be lodged within a reasonable time frame after the investigation outcome has been delivered.

It is important to note that individuals tend to have a lot at stake in the outcome of an investigation. In the case of grievances, most employees have significant emotional investment in the situation that led to the grievance as well as a strong belief in the merits of their complaint. For these reasons, appeals are very common!

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