Workplace investigations

Formal workplace investigations – particularly those relating to harassment, bullying, discrimination and whistleblowing – are becoming increasingly common. Often such investigations involve sensitive and complex issues, especially where they relate to high profile individuals, and could expose the organisation to significant legal risk, reputational damage or staff attrition, if handled poorly.

We are here to assist organisations carry out investigations where there is a need for external involvement. This could be for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Resource limitations;
  • Seniority or external profile of the witnesses;
  • Allegations made against or within an HR team;
  • Sensitivity or potential for adverse publicity.

Whatever the reason, our Employment Team can assist. We have significant experience with investigations into issues such as race discrimination, high profile allegations of unlawful behaviour or whistle-blowing, allegations relating to fraud, bullying, harassment and victimisation. We can also help with conducting investigations as part of disciplinary and grievance procedures, ensuring compliance with the ACAS code of practice.

Our investigation will be thorough, fair and impartial. As employment lawyers, we know the importance of getting an investigation right. There are numerous examples of Employment Tribunal decisions where poor investigations have led to a finding of unfair dismissal and in some cases even discrimination or victimisation. As external investigators, our team will investigate promptly and sensitively, without unnecessary delay, in a way which ensures minimum disruption to your organisation and mitigates legal risk.

Ordinarily, our investigation process will include reviewing all relevant policies and documents, holding investigation meetings, interviewing witnesses to obtain witness statements, analysing evidence and producing a robust investigation report containing conclusions and recommendations (and other guidance, suggested next steps, and actions to be taken, as appropriate).

As well as conducting independent investigations, we have significant experience in the following:

  • Advising and supporting in-house HR personnel, senior managers and external HR consultants on conducting workplace investigations (and any subsequent formal process) into issues such as grievances, disciplinaries, bullying allegations and whistleblowing;
  • Assisting organisations to develop strategies and practices for handling sensitive issues such as whistleblowing;
  • Providing training to businesses on conducting workplace investigations, as well as other targeted, bespoke training on dealing with tricky issues such as sexual harassment and discrimination.