Why use an independent investigator?
Complaints warranting investigation may be indicative of broader disharmony within the workplace that should be addressed. Managers involved in grievance handling procedures may be emotionally vested or subject to a perceived bias. Engaging an external investigator creates the necessary impartiality and fairness and reduces the impact upon ongoing workplace relationships.
While external investigations can involve an upfront cost for an company (in terms of engaging an investigator to conduct the investigation and provide a report) this needs to be weighed up against the significant costs involved in upskilling staff sufficiently to conduct appropriate workplace investigations, the potentially greater risk of having to defend the internal process in any subsequent legal proceedings and the payment of any compensation that may be awarded. Engaging an external investigator to conduct workplace investigations may provide all participants in the investigation process with greater confidence in the process and its outcome.
A further benefit of engaging an external investigator to conduct workplace investigations is the additional confidentiality, or perception of confidentiality, attaching to an external investigator’s involvement in that process. This may also enhance the perceived integrity of the investigation process with the investigation participants, in turn reducing the risk of disputes in relation to the investigation outcomes.
The use of an external investigator may enhance the perception that the matter will be investigated at “arm’s length” and it is more likely that the subject matter of the investigation (and the investigation itself) will remain confidential.
An external investigation is less likely to impact upon ongoing workplace relationships (to the extent that the investigator will not remain in the workplace on completion of the investigation process) which is particularly important if the investigation relates to personal or sensitive matters.
Why is a properly conducted investigation important?
Investigations are an essential part of handling certain matters within a company. In potential disciplinary investigations a flawed or incomplete investigation can undermine the disciplinary process and leave employers vulnerable to claims for unfair dismissal.
If an employer dismisses an employee, they must be able to show that they:
- genuinely believed that misconduct had occurred
- had reasonable grounds for this belief
- had arrived at this belief after a reasonable investigation.
For a dismissal to be fair an employer must be able to show that they came to their decision as a result of a fair and thorough investigation.
Investigations are just as important when a grievance has been raised. Where the grievance is not upheld, the evidence collected during the investigation can be used to explain the reasons behind this and show an employee that their grievance was taken seriously.
Most people don’t know that during disputes that you should involve a trusted independent advisor. Failing to follow a fair process can result in a 25% uplift of damages awarded in Employment Tribunal.
Access to Knowledge
Using our 27 years of experience you can unlock knowledge and understanding that will mean investigations are conducted with the highest quality and impartiality for all parties concerned.
In our experience we have found that companies who try and handle disputes, complaints and grievances themselves ultimately were spending far longer than when an independent advisor was involved.
Uninformed decisions may leave employers vulnerable to claims at Employment Tribunal.
Thank you for your flexibility and the way you handled the investigation. It is very much appreciated. The report is very comprehensive and professional.
You have a very nice manner and the report was the best one that I have read in years.
Nicola thank you for all your help with this process. Your contribution has been greatly valued and much appreciated.