The obligation to ‘fairly’ investigate complaints about employee misconduct remains firmly upon each employer seeking to protect its employees from false allegations, to safeguard the corporation’s credibility and the corporation’s bottom line; however gross the alleged act of misconduct may seem.
Before commissioning an internal or external investigation, key points to consider include the purpose of the investigation, the independence and integrity of the available investigators, and the consequences of a flawed investigation to both the accused employee and the corporation.
Misconduct complaints are hard to deal with, for both the employer and the alleged perpetrator whereas, in certain incidences of financial, sexual or violent misconduct; the added obligation to escalate matters to the necessary law enforcement agents for investigation firmly lies with the senior responsible officers of the company – e.g. in the UK, ActionFraud is responsible for investigating procurement fraud, bid rigging and other criminal acts; the National Crime Agency – specifically the CEOP – is responsible for protecting children from online harm, which could take place from work computers.
Here are 5 simple and yet key points to ensure the corporation retains a good reputation by investigating misconduct claims thoroughly, following an allegation against an employee:
- The primary purpose of each employee misconduct investigations has to be to discover, rather than conceal the truth.
- All investigators, including HR, internal appeal managers, and any external parties must conduct themselves impeccably and with integrity, and be accountable for their individual conduct during an investigation.
- All investigators including HR, internal appeal managers, and any external investigator must remain impartial.
- Internal policies and procedures on the management of grievances and investigations must be followed fairly, with transparency and honesty.
- Senior leaders must establish a ‘speaking up’ culture where employees are able to assist investigations without fear of retribution.
Effective and fair investigations boost the credibility of an organisation, in the sight of existing and potential employees, and can serve the difference between reputational disrepute and corporate credibility.
Is your organisation credible?