The workplace investigation – getting it right first time.
If you require a professional investigation undertaking into a complex situation in the workplace, TCM can help. We have a panel of some of the top workplace investigators in the UK comprising former senior police officers, HRD’s and lawyers. They are all specially trained to investigate a wide range of misconduct issues plus bullying, harassment and discrimination allegations. We are proud to offer our customers a bespoke and high quality workplace investigation service which will ensure that you, the employer, can pursue a course of action which is compliant, consistent and credible. Our professional investigators deliver an impartial, fair, structured and rigorous assessment of the evidence relating to an allegation or a series of allegations.
No one wants to have to do an investigation. But sometimes it is the only thing to do and it is the right thing to do. In these cases, our advice is to get it right first time. The stakes are too high to try a bit of DIY investigation or detective work.
TCM are here to help and we are happy to answer any questions that you might have. Please call us on 0800 294 97 87 or contact us via our online contact form.
“At Cygnet Healthcare we are so busy ensuring that our service users are well cared for that it is difficult for us to assign managers to investigations, which ultimately can lead to delays in responding to complaints. To improve our response to complaints and reassure our staff that investigations are acted upon promptly and fairly, we approached TCM to support us by providing an external investigation service, ensuring that our investigations were conducted impartially and that outcomes were fair and unbiased.
Since the first investigation in November 2019, we have used TCM a number of times to conduct investigations on our behalf and every one has been conducted promptly, the turnover is really quick, and outcomes fair and impartial. They have also identified areas where we could improve our processes and we continue to work with them in this area. I would thoroughly recommend TCM to support any business.” Lyn Elliot , Head of HR, Cygnet Healthcare.
You can rely on TCM to deliver a high quality investigation
The TCM investigation is meticulously planned and executed. We maintain effective communications with you at all times and the final report is clearly written, well structured and contains unambiguous findings whether or not there appears to be a case to answer (based on the available evidence*).
Our workplace investigators use a variety of skills, strategies and techniques during the course of their investigation to ensure that the investigation is thorough, transparent, fair rigorous and effective. We apply the TCM FAIR Model™ in our interviews which means that our investigators are trained to be robust but to also be compassionate, empathetic and supportive. We believe that such an approach reduces stress (cortisol) levels and actually makes it easier for us to get to the facts behind the allegations.
TCM investigators carry out independent investigations into grievances and complaints as well as allegations of bullying, harassment, discrimination, capability, compliance, misconduct, theft, whistleblowing and fraud.
*The burden of proof in workplace investigations is the civil burden ie balance of probability or 51%.
Workplace investigations can be like walking through a minefield.
The risks of getting a workplace investigation wrong are significant. In an appeal or at Employment Tribunal, the applicant may use procedural failings to undermine the actions taken by the employer. Even though the employer may have been acting in good faith, the failure to investigate properly and reasonably is the achilles heel which can result in an expensive settlement or a case lost.
The Employment Tribunals apply a test called ‘The Burchell Test’ to assess if an employer has dismissed fairly following a reasonable investigation. Open any newspaper on any day to read about the reputational harm and financial cost of getting a workplace investigation wrong.
How do employers get it wrong?
- Using poorly trained internal investigators (or worse – untrained), who have a million and one other things to do .
- A lack of effective planning and unclear terms of reference.
- Investigations taking too long to complete.
- Poorly managed suspensions and communications with the parties.
- Poorly written reports with opaque or ambiguous findings.
- In smaller organizations with one HR person or an external HR consultant, we often hear stories of HR acting as the investigator, the adviser to the employer and the final determinations panel. Ie HR become the judge, the jury and the executioner. The conflicts of interest are fairly obvious.
It really doesn’t need to be this way. The next tab explains what a quality investigation should look like.
Getting investigations right first time.
TCM has developed a set of standards for our workplace investigators. These standards form the basis of all of our professional investigation services and investigation training courses. These investigation quality standards ensure that workplace investigations undertake by TCM are fair, thorough and robust.
TCM investigators always:
-Prepare fully and clarify the context and scope of the investigation at the outset. This includes developing clear terms of reference at the commencement of the investigation.
-Understand the legal, moral and organisational policy/procedural, frameworks relating to dignity at work, grievance, bullying, harassment and disciplinary investigations.
-Ensure that they suspend judgment and remain impartial, neutral, objective and free from bias or conflict of interest.
-Maintain effective levels of communication throughout the investigation process
-Apply rigour in their analysis of evidence and are careful in making findings supported by the facts and relevant evidence.
-Recognise the importance of seeking out mitigating or corroborating factors.
-Compile a clear, well-structured final report which will withstand
internal and external scrutiny.
-Aware of relevant tests (e.g. “Burchell”) and remain up to date with case law and precedents.
-Understand what happens after an investigation is complete and the role of the investigator at determination hearings, appeals and Employment Tribunals.
Provide all relevant information gathered during the investigation as appendices to the final report.
In addition, in some cases, TCM investigators may identify opportunities for mediation or restorative justice to help the parties to resolve an issue without the need for formal action. In these cases, you will be notified immediately and we will seek clarification from you before any action is taken.
What happens during a workplace investigation?
Each investigation is different and is tailored to the specific needs and circumstances in each case. However, the following sets out a basic framework for the investigation:
- Request to investigate received at TCM along with key documents.
- TCM investigator attends scoping meeting. This is an opportunity to discuss chronology, key policies, sources of evidence. key witnesses, terms of reference and timescales
- interviews commence and additional sources of evidence are utilised.
- Investigator submits draft report to TCM’s Head of Investigation Services for internal quality assurance.
- Draft report is then submitted to the sponsor. This stage may include an onsite meeting to discuss the draft report face to face.
- Final amendments are made and the investigation report is submitted with all appendices provided.
This is a summary of the investigation process. For more details please contact us on 0800 294 9787 or complete our short contact form and we’ll call you back.
Q. How quickly does it take to set up an investigation?
A. We can usually commence an investigation in 5-10 working days.
Q. Do you cover the UK?
Yes – we have a national network of TCM investigators who work across the UK. We also conduct investigations overseas and have access to investigators who speak most European languages.
Q. What happens to the notes from an interview?
The notes are typed up by the investigator and sent to the interviewee for sign off. The signed off and handwritten notes are included in the appendix of the final report.
Q. Can the subject of disciplinary action see the final report?
If the case goes to a disciplinary panel then it is generally appropriate for the subject to have sight of the final report and relevant appendices including witness statements. These can be redacted to protect relationships if required.
Q. What happens if more allegations come to light during the investigation process?
We will notify you immediately. This may result in us needing to modify the terms of reference or even stopping the investigation which we would not do without your approval.
Q. How much does it cost
Our investigations start at £795 per day plus vat. Each investigation is individually costed based on complexity, the nature of the allegations, the number of witnesses and the time required. Please contact us on 0800 294 9787 or complete a short online enquiry form to discuss costings further.
The FAIR Investigation Model™
TCM’s FAIR Investigation Model™ advocates a compassionate, empathetic and non-confrontational approach for interviewing and investigating. That’s not to say the process is not rigorous, challenging and highly effective. However, experience has taught us that parties who feel threatened in an interview release high levels of adrenaline and cortisol which means that they can become defensive which in turn can create hostility or withdrawal. Using the power of Positive Psychology during our interviews, we enable the parties to feel safer and more secure which has significant benefits for them, for the interviewer and for the investigation process as a whole:
- The investigation is less stressful, damaging and corrosive for the parties
- Creating less stress, fear and anxiety means that we protect relationships between colleagues and managers.
- We may be able to interview less people to identify the truth which means that working relationships stay intact.
Specialist and complex investigations.
Whilst workplace investigations generally relate to grievances or general misconduct, we know from experience that some allegations are more complex and of a more serious nature. At TCM, our experienced investigators are drawn from varied professional backgrounds to help your organisation on more specialist cases.
In cases where you suspect staff fraud, or misappropriation of organisations time or funds, then our expert team of investigators drawn from Government departments and Police Services are on hand to ensure investigations are conducted to the standards required for internal formal processes and, where considered appropriate, to criminal law requirements.
Sector regulatory bodies and ombudsman complaint investigations.
TCM has conducted several investigations for organisations that have received complaints through their respective sector regulatory body (e.g. Care Quality Commission) and Ombudsman. Our professional team of investigators ensure that investigations are conducted to the strict deadlines required and to the standards required to satisfy compliance.
Bullying and harassment investigations.
Whilst it is considered primarily a ‘misconduct’ investigation, allegations of bullying and harassment have strict legislative requirements under the Equality Act 2010. With our investigators from HR Director level and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion experts, we ensure that these investigations are conducted fairly, thoroughly and with due regard to the protected characteristics.
TCM are able to undertake investigations covering all of the protected characteristics as defined within the Singe Equality Act and all subsequent amendments. These include age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity
Audit compliance investigations
With more organisation under scrutiny for spending and procurement, investigations into allegations of non-compliance are becoming more important than ever. TCM has professionals from the banking and finance industry who can reassure organisations that investigations are conducted to compliance standards. With more organisation under scrutiny for spending and procurement, investigations into allegations of non-compliance are becoming more important than ever. TCM has professionals from the banking and finance industry who can reassure organisations that investigations are conducted to compliance standards.
Investigations involving multiple allegations and multiple parties.
TCM can support you to investigate collective grievances and other matters involving multiple parties and multiple allegations.
Investigation Skills Training Courses
Handling and Investigation is a challenging process and should never fall into the hands of an untrained manager. We believe working with an expert TCM investigator to be the best option for a fair, rigorous and robust investigation; but we do also train your staff.
We have a wide portfolio of workplace investigation skills training courses. Our flagship, 2-day Practical Investigation Skills course is the most popular choice for those new to the process. Delegates will leave with a thorough understanding of the investigation process from start-to-finish, and develop key skills such as interviewing and note-taking.
For an introduction to investigating, our 1-day core skills course is an excellent option. We ‘ve developed a 3-day advanced course for those taking on a specialist investigation role. In the light of the ever changing working environment, we also offer an online interviewing skills course. Looking to upskill your staff members who are responsible for chairing a hearing? We also have a course for that!
Workplace investigation case studies
Below are a handful of case studies relating to investigations undertaken by TCM. Please click on the link to find out more.
CASE STUDY: Investigating allegations of misconduct