What should happen before an interview when there is an investigation of Workplace misbehaviour?
When allegations are made of misconduct in the workplace, there will be an investigation that includes interviews involving the complainant, the defendant, and witnesses.
This is to gather the different accounts of what happened and get the overall picture to make an ultimate decision. Before these discussions are carried out, there are several essential steps to ensure everything is prepared, so all parties have a fair opportunity to deliver their version of events.
Preparing the complainant
This is typically the first interview that you will conduct, as this is where you will be collecting facts and establishing the base of the investigation. The correct procedure is to invite the complainant to come and discuss their allegations in more detail. This should be in writing and also allow ample time for the complainant to prepare. You should advise that they are allowed to have a support person present.
This allows you to prepare, including the purpose, broad topics and narrow subtopics.
Preparing the witnesses
The next step is to gather a list of witnesses based on the initial allegations. These can be any people who may have seen or heard the misconduct and can provide further information to assist in the investigation.
You should follow the same procedures as you did with the complainant, with written invitations to provide further information, enough time for them to prepare and notification that they can have a support person present.
Preparing the respondent
By the time you have interviewed the complainant and witnesses, you will have gathered all the information needed to proceed to the respondent. This will enable you to expedite the process by only asking the respondent questions on the elements of the allegation(s) that they disagree with.
You also leave the respondent until last so that you can provide them with all the details of the complaints and allegations made against them. This is important for procedural fairness.
As you have all the information from the complainant and the witnesses, you can decide which investigation elements will require responses from the respondent. The same rules apply here as with the other interviews. That is, the respondent should be advised in writing, given enough time to prepare their responses, and advised they may have a support person present.
Preparing for the interviews
It is essential to have everything ready in advance. The planning should include the space itself, which should meet a range of conditions, including:
- Privacy: These interviews should not be held in communal spaces. They should be held in private, quiet areas so that the discussions remain confidential. If it is possible to include discrete entrances and exits, that is also advisable. The room should not have glass walls, and blinds should cover any windows for complete privacy and discretion. Make sure there is enough room for all parties attending as well, including any support people.
- The setup: It is advisable to go for an informal approach so it doesn’t feel intimidating. While this may be a tribunal hearing, it shouldn’t feel like that. You want to develop a rapport and get all the correct information that you can. Avoid direct lines between the interviewer and interviewee that could prove to be intimidating.
If you plan on recording the proceedings (and you should), ensure that all recording equipment has been set up correctly and tested. Ensure you have all your notes, questions, documents and plans in place, and you will be on track for a successful investigation.
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