As a HR professional a lot of my work involves providing advice and training on good practice employee relations to public sector HR professionals. Most grievance, disciplinary and dignity at work policies emphasise the importance of early interventions and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation. However the reality is that grievances, dignity at work and disciplinary issues often escalate to the formal stage of a policy where issues or conflict cannot be resolved informally. In my experience, many HR professionals find the process of managing formal investigations daunting. The implementation of fair procedures is critical in managing investigations, and a very high level of complaints lodged with the Workplace Relations Commissions are upheld because of a failure to adhere to the principles of fair procedures, namely that:
employee grievances are fairly examined and processed
details of allegations or complaints are put to the employee concerned
the employee is given the opportunity to respond fully to allegations or complaints
the employee is afforded the right to be represented during the procedure
the employee concerned has the right to a fair and impartial determination of the issues concerned, taking into account representations made by or on their behalf and any other relevant information.
These principles are enshrined not only in constitutional law and common law, but also in national codes of practice. Where investigations are not managed in line with these principles, there are many negative consequences – in relation to costs, resources, organisational reputation and damage to working relationships, wellbeing and trust.
I am looking forward to delivering PAI’s ‘Managing HR Investigations’ training workshop on 18 January 2022. This programme will provide participants with an overview and understanding of how to manage HR investigations effectively, with a focus on the following:
determining when and how a formal investigation should be completed
agreeing terms of reference for an investigation
ensuring adherence to policies and fair procedures in an investigation
reaching conclusions based on the civil burden of proof
top tips for managing investigations
Sile O’Donnell, FCIPD
Who will benefit from this programme?
HR and employee relations managers who wish to develop their understanding of how to manage investigations. This programme will also be very useful for managers who have a role in managing or commissioning HR investigations.