What are the benefits of appointing an external Investigator?
A common response of most organisations is to have the matter investigated by a Supervisor, Manager or a HR consultant, using an informal approach to resolve the situation. The experience of many is that once inquiries are commenced, and the lid is lifted from the proverbial ‘can of worms’, matters become much more complex than the initial information may have indicated; and Manager may not have the skills, expertise, or time to investigate the matter properly.
The investigation may identify systemic problems within the workplace which could lead to criticism of the organisation. In many instances, an internal Investigator may find it difficult to raise issues that they feel may not be popular with their Managers or Directors.
Adverse findings may result in ill feelings against the Investigator, which may cause further difficulties if the Investigator is required to work with those involved in the investigation during the normal course of business.
It will often be the case, that in serious matters resulting in an investigation, there are distinct advantages in an independent external Investigator being appointed. An independent Investigator will only be influenced by the evidence, they are removed from the organisational culture and politics, and the findings will be based on facts, enabling the organisation to make appropriate decisions. Transparency is key.
How to choose an Investigator?
An Investigator must have the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to conduct the investigation, in accordance with the principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness. Ask about their relevant experience, methodology used and their proposed investigation plan.
It is essential that issues such as potential conflicts of interest are identified. A perception of bias on the part of the Investigator held by the complainant, respondent, witness or observer can undermine and taint the entire investigation and any outcomes.
It is paramount that the Investigator conducting the investigation is seen to all those involved and observers as being unbiased and skilled to undertake the task. The perception that an investigation is being conducted fairly is just as important as the reality that it is being done so.
What is the Investigation process?
Once a decision has been made to commence a formal investigation, INVision will conduct inquiries as follows;
1.Usually, the allegations would have been put to the respondent in writing for the Decision Maker to consider. If the Decision Maker does not accept the explanations/denials provided, then respondent is to be advised of the decision in writing to initiate an disciplinary investigation and the appointment of an Investigator.
2.The complainant, respondent and all witnesses are advised in writing, and arrangements will be made to interview each person individually.
3.The interviews will be recorded on a digital audio recorder and later transcribed. Copies of the transcriptions will be provided with the final report.
4.The interviews will be conducted on a confidential basis, however, the investigator or the client employer, may disclose the content of the interview for the purposes of the investigation or if required by law. The interview is therefore not classed as a private conversation under the Surveillance Devices Act 1998 as it is intended by the parties that the record of interview may be required to be listened to by others involved in the investigation.
5. Interviewees will be entitled to have a support person present. The support person has a passive role in the interview, and cannot be involved in the matter under investigation.
6. Any other evidence will be obtained and examined.
7.The completed report will contain an analysis of the evidence, findings and recommendations. All of INVision’s investigations are conducted in accordance with the Principles of Natural Justice and Procedural Fairness.
8. INVision also ensures that all persons involved in the process have access to the organisations Employee Assistance Provider if they require confidential support.
How long does an Investigation take to complete?
This is largely dependent upon; the number of persons to be interviewed, availability of interviewees and evidence, complexity of the matter. INVision understands that Workplace Investigations or Reviews can be very onerous on the parties involved; and with that in mind, we endeavour to complete matters in the most efficient and timely manner possible, without comprising the integrity of our inquiries. Clients and relevant parties will always be kept as updated as possible as to the progress of any matter.
How does INVision price its services?
- INVision will meet with the client for a briefing where the scope of work will be discussed.
- While we try our best, due to the unpredictable nature of investigations and workplace reviews quotations for scoped work are estimates only and prices may vary depending upon the complexity of the matter and any additional work to be undertaken
- If it is anticipated the quotation will increase by greater than 25% of the total amount, formal approval will be sort from the client prior to further costs being incurred.
- Any additional, out of scope work, will be discussed with the client and charged in accordance with our Letter of Engagement.
- INVision keeps in regular contact with our clients during the course of any work undertaken and provide regular updates.
- We only bill for work done and expenses accumulated. If work completed and estimates are lower that the quoted amount, then the client is invoiced for the lesser amount.
- Discounts are also given for long-term or ongoing assignments.