ACAS have published a very helpful guide – ‘Conducting Workplace Investigations’ (June 2019). This guide provides clear advice on when and how to conduct an investigation. The world of investigations can seem a daunting place and the consequences if it is done incorrectly can be costly. As business owners and managers, you need to familiarise yourself with the process as deciding without completing a reasonable investigation can make any subsequent decisions or actions unfair and leave you vulnerable to legal action.
Their ’At a Glance Chart’ is particularly useful:
STEP 1: Organisational preparation
Decide if an investigation is necessary • Establish terms of reference – the rules that the investigation will follow, including precisely what needs to be investigated • Choose an appropriate investigator
STEP 2: An investigator’s preparation
Draft an investigation plan • Identify who might need to be called to an investigation meeting • Identify what evidence might need to be gathered – and how to get it • Contact parties involved in the matter
STEP 3: Handling an investigation meeting
Establish who can accompany employees at the meeting • Plan what questions need to be asked • Interview the parties involved and any relevant witnesses • Handle reluctant witnesses or refusals to meet appropriately
STEP 4: Gathering evidence
Arrange and agree witness statements • Collect any relevant written records and documents e.g. timesheets • Collect any relevant and appropriate physical evidence e.g. CCTV
STEP 5: Report the investigation findings
Write an investigation report – remember there is a free ACAS template available to use or adapt • Report what is likely to have happened – the balance of probabilities • Make a recommendation where requested
STEP 6: After an investigation is completed
Submit the report and conclude the investigator role • Retain the report for an appropriate period • Ensure any recommendations unrelated to the matter are considered
Using these 6 steps can ensure that you tick off all your responsibilities as a business during the investigation process. Once the investigation is over and you have the report you can decide what action to take.
Would you know what to do if an issue or grievance hit your desk?