You should have already done the preparation work required to prepare for the disciplinary investigation meeting.
The Invitation to Disciplinary Investigation Letter to the employee has advised them of the specific allegation/s, provided them with copies of all the evidence you are relying on, advised them of their right to representation and advised them of the worst case possible outcome. Now it is time to get information and evidence directly from the employee.
A couple of important notes before the meeting:
- You should have someone with you to support you at the meeting. Ideally it will be someone familiar with the process who can run it for you while you take notes. At a minimum it should be someone who can take take notes for you while you run the process.
- Ensure you have all information you have relied upon in setting out the allegations available at the meeting. This information should not differ from that provided to the employee when you invited them to the meeting.
- It is important that you actively listen to the employee’s feedback and ask further questions to seek clarity.
- Do not feel pressured to complete your investigation in the same day. The employee or their representative may put pressure on you to do so. It is very important that you take the time to properly gather all of the information that relates to the allegation. Like a Judge running a court hearing, you control the process so take your time.
- In some situations no further investigation is required as a result of the employee’s explanation and you can conclude your investigation phase and move on to making a decision about whether the allegation has any grounds. It is important to take sufficient time to consider the employee’s feedback balancing this with the fact that this is a very stressful time for the employee and possibly yourself. Reflecting on matters overnight can be very helpful.
- At the conclusion of the meeting you should write up the meeting notes together with your support person and save them as Word document. Retain the hand written notes on your file.
- Remember you are obliged at all times to act in good faith and as a fair and reasonable employer.
Meeting outline for the investigation:
Ensure that you cover the following and provide any explanations required before proceeding to hear the employee's response.
Complete introductions, including the role of each person at the meeting.
- Thank the employee and their representative for attending. If the employee did not bring a representative, ensure they do not require one and note this in meeting notes. If they do require a representative, adjourn the meeting to allow the employee time to arrange representation.
- Advise the employee they can request an adjournment at any time. Advise the representative they are welcome to speak at any time.
Outline reason for the meeting
Advise the employee that the purpose of the meeting is to present to the them your concerns in relation to an allegation of inappropriate behaviour. Advise that the allegation constitutes misconduct/serious misconduct (be consistent with your invitation letter).
Check that the employee understands the seriousness of the meeting in that an outcome of the disciplinary process may be disciplinary action up to and including (first formal, final formal or summary dismissal (again be consistent with the invitation letter)).
State the allegation(s)
- Using the invitation letter as a guide advise the employee what the allegations are.
- Again using the invitation letter as a guide advise the employee of the information, events and documents that relates to the allegation.
- Check that the employee understands the allegations.
- Advise the employee that this is an opportunity for them to present their perspective on the allegations and the information collected to date and that you want to hear their side before making any decision about the next steps.
- Advise them that you are in an investigation phase and that once you have enough information you will then consider and make a decision as to whether misconduct has occurred.
Sometimes you may need to ask the employee questions to get them talking.
- Advise the employee that you would like to ask them some question regarding this matter.
- The key to a successful investigation meeting is to allow the employee to provide as much feedback as possible so encourage them to have their say.
- In order to be fully prepared for the meeting you might find it helpful to have some questions already prepared. You should only ask questions that are relevant to the matter you are dealing with. Try to make these questions open ended. You may be accused of leading the employee if you ask questions that can only be answered "Yes" or "No" so you should avoid using these if you can.
- The types of questions may include checking that the employee was at work on the day, why the employee took a particular course of action and their intention, seeking clarity on the employee’s understanding of policy/procedure and if they understood the policy/procedure why did they not follow it.
- Depending on the employee’s response, you may need to seek clarity or ask further questions.
- Depending on the employee’s response, you may need to ask the employee if their recollection of events differ to that stated in the allegation.
- If the employee advises you that others were present, you will need to advise the employee that you may need to speak with those present to obtain their version of events.
- If the employee tables information at the meeting you were not aware of, you will need to consider this and/or investigate further. You can adjourn the meeting at any time to further investigate things or get advice.
- Ask the employee if there is any further information that they would like to provide regarding this matter.
- Advise the employee that the process from here is for you to consider all the information you have including what they have just provided.
- Advise them that you may need to undertake further investigation and if you do that you will give them an opportunity to respond to anything new that you receive.
- Reiterate that you view situations such as these seriously, and you would like to ensure the investigation is completed as soon as possible.
- Advise them that if no further investigation is required you will conclude the investigation and your next step will be to determine whether misconduct/serious misconduct has occurred.
- Let the employee know that what ever the outcome you will provide them with a proposed outcome and that they will get the opportunity to make final comments.
- Advise the employee that if they have any questions about the investigation or the time frame, they can contact you.
- Remind the employee of the need for confidentiality in order to maintain the integrity of the process. Advise them that this matter is not to be discussed with anyone else except the employee’s representative and/or support person.
- Thank the employee and representative for attending the meeting.
- End the meeting.
After the investigation meeting
If no further investigation is required you may be able to move to the next phase straight away.
It is highly recommended that you reflect on matters overnight before making your decision about the outcome. If termination is a possibility this will be even more important.
Once you have made your decision about the allegation the next phase will be to make a decision about the appropriate outcome.
It is good practice, before any disciplinary action is confirmed, to give the employee an opportunity to respond to the proposal and provide any additional information. You will need to have worked through all the information and be able to articulate your findings, your reasoning and your decision before you meet with your employee.
TEMPLATE - Disciplinary meeting - Guide and Notes Form