Well if an employee has made a complaint about the behaviour of another employee you have a legal obligation to investigate.
If you become aware that there is conduct from an employee that may justify dismissal or disciplinary action an investigation will provide the information necessary to make a determination and will become valuable evidence in the event of a dismissal.
There are some key elements to a ‘good’ investigation.
Be Responsive – it needs to be done promptly. The sooner the investigation is held the better to enable credible information and evidence. A responsive investigation will also enhance both the investigators and the employers credibility.
Investigation Plan – there should be a clear plan for the investigation process. The plan should identify the compliant or issue, detail the witnesses that will be interviewed, the sources of information and evidence, interview questions targeted to elicit crucial information and details, and a process for retention of documentation.
Investigator – the investigator should be an independent party that can conduct the investigation objectively without bias and have no stake in the outcome. An investigator should have some prior knowledge of employment law and the skills to build a rapport with all parties and be perceived as fair and neutral. The investigators role is simply to establish the facts, NOT to judge whether anyone is ‘guilty’ or ‘innocent’. The investigator should prepare a report and submit this to senior management for a determination to be made.
Investigation Report – the purpose of the report is to ensure that if a court were to be reviewing the document the reviewers would conclude that the employer took the situation seriously, responded immediately and appropriately and had good faith for any actions taken during or as a result of the investigation. The report should summarise: the incident including dates, the parties involved, the key facts and findings, the relevant and applicable company policies, specific conclusions, the parties responsible for making the determination, and the employer actions taken.
Regardless of the reason for the Workplace Investigation it is a stressful time for all involved. Using an external entity can ease some of that stress.
I hope that you have found information of value.