Learn from my experience of conducting formal investigations into harassment, bullying and discrimination for large, high profile companies and organisations in this, the final in my series on how to investigate harassment and bullying complaints.
Tip – Record, record, record
Do not rely on your memory as far as the progress of the investigation is concerned. It could be some time later when you are asked tricky questions about delays or hold ups you encountered when you were investigating the complaint. It could be vital at an appeal stage that you have answers to these questions.
Consequently, investigating officers should keep a record of the sequence of interviews they conducted, why they saw people in a particular order, why there were delays, how and when the notes were signed off, etc.
The record of the investigation should include references to anyone who refused to be interviewed or to cooperate with the investigation. Details of delays and reasons for them should be carefully noted. These could include annual leave, availability of trade union reps, sickness absence, pressure of business, etc.
It is important to retain this information long after the investigation is complete in case there is an appeal or the case goes to an employment tribunal. An ET could be quite some time after you have finished the investigation and it would be a pity if your case was weakened because you had forgotten these details.
Check on my previous HR Review blogs for tips on investigating. Together they will form the basis of a robust procedure for investigating harassment, bullying or discrimination claims.