Jean Kelly: How to investigate harassment and bullying complaints robustly

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Here are some more tips to help ensure your formal investigations of harassment, bullying and discrimination are sound and effective.

Tip – Prepare, prepare, prepare

Prior to each interview, the investigator should prepare questions based on the written complaint and relevant documentation received in relation to the complaint.

A series of questions should be written which query every statement in the complaint. This preparation is vital to ensure all points are covered.

Almost inevitably, it will be necessary to ask supplementary questions during the interviews and sometimes some of the prepared questions will be superfluous. But it is better to over-prepare than under-prepare.

By preparing thoroughly, it is less likely that an investigator will have to go back to re-interview the complainant – this is time consuming and can cause distress.

When the complainant’s interview notes have been typed up and agreed, the investigator can use these notes in addition to the written complaint as the basis for devising the interview questions for the witnesses and the person complained about.

Tip – Confidentiality is vital

The investigation should be undertaken in strict confidentiality and with due regard to the interests of all parties.  Every person interviewed should be told not to discuss the allegation or the interview outside the interview room, except with their union representative or colleague supporter.

It should be pointed out that breaches of confidentiality could lead to disciplinary action.  Make sure all parties are told this and that it is stated on the notes that they sign off. This will mean you will be able to prove that they have agreed to confidentiality if there is a problem later on.

Check out my blog in the next edition of HR Review for more tips on investigating harassment, bullying and discrimination.

 

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About Jean Kelly

Jean Kelly, MD, Jean Kelly Consultancy

Jean Kelly is an experienced specialist in combating harassment and bullying at work. Her company investigates, trains and consults on all issues relating to conflict at work.

Jean offers a conciliation coaching service to informally resolve workplace disputes and she has produced a range of products and open programmes to help managers develop their people management skills.

www.jeankellyconsultancy.co.uk

www.peoplemanagementmadeeasy.com

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