08 Oct 2020
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for harassment problems to emerge in a workplace. If it occurs in your workplace, you should carry out an investigation. This means setting out on a fact-finding mission to collect information about an incident.
You can appoint an investigator in-house or look for external assistance. Whatever you choose, there is a process to follow.
Before you start…
You should provide an investigator with guidance on a respective incident. Detail how their subsequent findings should be reported. Investigators are expected to research and document the incident. They must examine all the available evidence but avoid becoming involved the incident itself. If they do, this compromises the investigation, allowing for personal bias.
The 5 essentials steps include:
- Assess whether the harassment constitutes gross misconduct. If it does, you can suspend employees until you’ve concluded the investigation.
- Set out the allegations clearly in the invite to disciplinary letter. This will allow the employee to prepare their case. It’s insufficient to simply state “harassment is a breach of company policy”.
- Provide the employee with copies of all evidence. This includes witness statements, notes, or investigation meetings.
- Determine whether you should anonymise witness statements. Only where there is a genuine fear of reprisals should you do this.
- Make the employee aware of possible outcomes of the disciplinary. For example, if it is being treated as gross misconduct – a possible outcome of the hearing could be summary dismissal.
Part-way through the investigation you may find there is no substance to the complaint. If this happens, you shouldn’t just drop the case there and then. Arrange a meeting with complainant and explain your findings.
In this meeting you should confirm whether further action is necessary. You can also hold a ‘clear the air’ meeting or look at some form of mediation.
With unrivalled experience in the industry, Croner’s Employment Law advisors are some of the most renowned and knowledgeable professionals in their respective fields. If you are currently managing a case of this nature and would like guidance from a Croner expert please call 01455 858 132.
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