August 3, 2017 – Investigations should be conducted by Human Resources anytime there is a reason to believe conduct has occurred that could lead to discipline of an employee or impose liability on the company. Use the following steps as a guide when conducting an investigative interview.
1. Preparing for Investigative Interviews
Ensure you have done the following before conducting any interviews:
- Review all applicable policies.
- Determine the scope of the investigation.
- Limit to specific instance or broader.
- Consider possible witnesses and relationships with other employees.
- Review personnel records.
- Outline questions for witnesses.
Complaining Employee: Define the employee’s complaint by interviewing the employee who is complaining.
- Interview should include a description of the conduct in question and any similar conduct engaged in by the accused that previously occurred.
- The complaining employee should be requested to provide the names of any witnesses who can support their claims. In all cases, obtain dates, times, locations, and persons present to any incidents.
- Capture the employee’s complaint in writing, whether it be a prepared complaint made by the employee or a statement made by the interviewer summarizing the points of the interview.
- If possible, obtain the complaining employee’s signature on the statement.
- If the employee refuses to sign or subsequently withdraws the complaint, do not simply abandon the investigation.
- Ask the employee what action does he/she believe would be necessary to alleviate his/her concerns.
- Do not guarantee confidentiality to any party involved.
Accused Employee: Interview the accused employee concerning each and every incident alleged to have occurred.
- Obtain dates, times, locations, and persons present to any incidents from the accused employee.
- The accused employee should be requested to sign a statement summarizing their side of the story, and should be advised any retaliation will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
- Interview witnesses the accused identifies, unless the accused employee admits to every allegation.
Witnesses: Interview the witnesses who have been identified by the complaining employee concerning the incident in question. All interviews should be conducted using the same procedure as set out in the “Complaining Employee” section above.
- Each employee should be advised that if any retaliation occurs, they should notify management immediately.
- They should also be advised the information they provide and receive from the interview should be kept confidential.
- Each employee should be requested to sign a statement which summarizes the results of the interview.
- Take specific notes and quote exact wording.
- Note emotions, body language, and facial expressions.
- Re-interview whenever necessary.
Prepare a confidential summary report which identifies each witness, the relevant facts elicited from each witness, and recommended disposition or discipline.
Before deciding what discipline or remedy to take, request the complaining employee’s input, and discuss any discipline or remedy with upper management and/or legal counsel.
5. Corrective Action
Document any discipline in a separate discipline report which states the basic facts, the policies violated, and the discipline imposed.
If you need additional assistance conducting an investigative interview, please contact your North Risk Partners advisor. Don’t have an advisor? No problem. We’ll help you find one.
This blog post is not intended to be exhaustive. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. Content provided by our consulting partners at Synergy Human Resources.