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What do employees need to know about workplace HR investigations?

While the very words can strike fear in any employee’s heart, workplace HR investigations can be a common and important aspect of the employment process.

They’re often conducted when an employee has made a complaint, or when an employer has concerns about an employee’s behaviour or performance, in order to ensure that any potential disagreements are rectified. Employees should be aware of the following key points about HR investigations.

The purpose of the investigation

Employees have the right to know the reason for the investigation. They should be informed of the specific allegations or concerns that are being investigated, and provided with any relevant information or evidence. It’s important to understand that the investigation is meant to find the truth and resolve any issues, rather than to find fault or place blame.

The employee’s rights

Employees also have the right to respond to any allegations made against them. They should be given the opportunity to provide their own account of the events in question, and to present any evidence or witness statements that support their position.

They also have the right to be treated fairly and without bias during the investigation. The HR investigator should be objective, and not make premature conclusions based on incomplete information.

Confidentiality

Employees should be made aware that their privacy will be protected during the investigation. Information gathered during the investigation should be kept confidential, and only shared with those who have a need to know.

It’s important for employees to know that any information shared during the investigation should be done so in a responsible and professional manner – this often helps ensure an open and communicative environment.

Cooperation

During an investigation, employees are responsible for cooperating fully, and providing any requested information or documentation related to their work. Failure to cooperate can be grounds for disciplinary action. Employees should understand that cooperating with the investigation is not an admission of guilt, but rather a means to help resolve the issues at hand.

Outcomes

It’s important for employees to be aware that the outcome of an investigation may result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

However, they also have the right to appeal any decision made as a result of the investigation. Employees need to understand that the outcome of the investigation will be based on the evidence and information gathered during the process, and not on personal biases or opinions, both of which are grounds for an unfair dismissal claim

Support

It’s crucial that employees are aware that they have access to support during an investigation. This can come in the form of a union representative, a solicitor, or an employee assistance program. Employees need to understand that they don’t have to navigate the investigation process alone.

In conclusion, workplace HR investigations are a necessary aspect of the employment process. They help to address and resolve workplace issues and ensure a fair and safe working environment for all employees. Employees should be aware of their rights and responsibilities during an investigation, and should often cooperate (dependent on legal advice) to ensure that the investigation is conducted in an appropriate and efficient manner.

If you suspect that your rights are not being respected, it’s important to reach out to an employment law specialist such as Weightmans Solicitors.

By understanding the process and the potential outcomes, employees can navigate an investigation with confidence, and know that they have support throughout the process.

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