One of the important roles Managers and Deputies will perform for their employer is to investigate allegations of misconduct in their Day Nursery, Pre-school or Out of School Club.
It’s a role that can be done really well with relatively little training or instruction. However it is a really important role and we have seen some really poor examples of investigation handling over the years.
Here’s our top tips to ensure that you handle an investigation into misconduct well.
1. Don’t consider the witness statement to be the end of the matter
Witness Statements whilst useful rarely give the investigator all of the information. Some witness statements are shocking. Often nothing more than a couple of sentences. The benefit of the investigatory meeting is that the investigator can identify questions he/she wants to ask the witness prior to the interview, then during the interview itself they can ask supplementary questions to illicit more detail. The notes can then be typed up and then if necessary agreed with the witness to be a true reflection of the conversation that took place.
2.Consider the wider context
What are we investigating and why? What may the context be by which this has occurred. Is this behaviour part of a wider pattern of behaviour? Do you have a wider span to this alleged misconduct investigation than you initially thought?
3. Remain Objective
The investigator must remain impartial and unbiased to do their job effectively. It’s important to remain objective. Seek evidence throughout the process. You say he said this to you? Is there CCTV? Are there any witnesses, of those witnesses are any independent?
4. Keep the evidence logical
The investigator should ensure that the evidence gathered is logical. We recommend a chronological order is assembled. We have found that photographic evidence and diagrams can be very useful when interviewing witnesses and presenting information. Also numbering the evidence will make it easier to refer to.
5. Don’t worry if its one person’s word against another
This is really common especially in investigations into allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination. Seek evidence to support or deny statements made but in the end it will come down to the ‘balance of probability’ as to whether the employer believes that the alleged behaviour has occurred.
ACAS has produced a really useful guidance to workplace investigations, you can find it here.
6. Produce an investigation report
In complex allegations it is useful to produce an investigation report. This will then compile the evidence of the investigation and be presented to the chair who will hear any disciplinary action.
If you need any assistance with handling an investigation in your Day Nursery, Pre-school or Out of School Club please call us on 01527 306066.