Workplace Investigations: How to set out allegation letters

Workplace Investigation Allegation Letters. This article addresses the how and the format of allegation letters.

In a workplace investigation allegation letters are used to advise the person subject of the complaint about what has been alleged and also to invite that person to attend an interview to provide their version of events or their side of the story.

There are certain components that I recommend you include in an allegation letter, the section in italics are examples only;

The introduction: This generally tells the person subject of the complaint that a complaint has been made in reference to the alleged behaviour and will often nominate the complainant, for example;

(Name of investigator) has been assigned (if internal) or Investigation company (name) has engaged (in the case of an external investigator) to conduct an investigation and provide a report into complainant made against you by (complainant) that you have engaged in conduct that is inconsistent with (the insert name of company) Code of Conduct and the (insert name of policy potentially breached).

(Name of company) has an obligation to investigate these allegations

The invitation to attend an interview: This section will contain details of the where and when the interview will take place and details of the investigator. 

The investigation will be conducted by name of investigator (in the case of an external investigator)

On (Insert date, time and location) you are invited to meet with (insert name of investigator), to provide your response to the allegations made against you.

Notation about the support person: The Fair Work Act states that an unreasonable denial of a support person during an interview that could result in the dismissal of the employee might be considered to be a breach of procedural fairness guidelines and the dismissal found to be harsh. We recommend always offering a support person.

You are welcome to bring a support person with you, but we remind you this meeting is for you to respond to the allegations personally and present any information you would like taken into account. The role of this support person is as a witness or adviser but not an advocate. The support person must not be involved in the process or be someone that has been or may be interviewed in relation to the matter.

More details: At this point you may insert the details of the policy or section of the Code of Conduct the respondent has allegedly breached.

At the meeting you will be asked to respond to allegation/s that you have behaved in a manner that is not consistent with the (Name of company) workplace bullying policy;

(Name of company) Workplace bullying policy (insert exerts from the Code of Conduct for example).

            Standards of Conduct - The standards expected of employees include, but are not limited to:

Treat all fellow employees, customers and other third parties with courtesy and respect
Not engaging in bullying or harassing behaviour of any nature

To assist in the investigation, please be prepared to respond to each of the allegation/s in the attached table in your meeting with (investigator). The interview will give you an opportunity to provide information in regard to the complaints.

Information about the format of the interview: You should inform the respondent about how you intend to conduct or record the interview. NOTE you CANNOT record a person during an interview or otherwise without their knowledge, to do so may be a breach of the law, please check applicable law in your jurisdiction. In New South Wales it is the Surveillance Devices Act 2007.(full Act here)

The interview will be digitally recorded and a copy of the transcript will be provided to you as soon as it is available (if applicable). As part of the process, you may identify potential witnesses for the purposes of possible interviewing in relation to the complaints.

If you have any documents which you believe may be of assistance, please bring them with you. 

All information obtained during this investigation will assist in determining whether you have engaged in the misconduct as alleged and the making of a recommendation regarding whether or not disciplinary action is appropriate. 

Information about potential outcomes: It is important to advise the respondent of the potential outcomes especially if termination is a possibility,

Disciplinary action, if appropriate can include:

  • A formal apology;
  • counselling;
  • letter of warning
  • transfer/demotion;
  • dismissal;
  • Other forms of disciplinary action such as deductions from salary

Outcome of investigation

You should note no conclusions have been reached regarding the truth or otherwise of the allegations in the attached table.  The process being followed in this investigation is designed to ensure that you have a full and fair opportunity to respond before any conclusions are reached.

Confidentiality, victimisation and counselling: This is also very important to advise the respondent,

This investigation is confidential. You are asked not discuss it with any person who works at (the Company) or is closely connected to (the Company) except any person who is acting as your support person.  You must not discuss or mention the investigation or the complaint in writing or on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.

The confidentiality restrictions applied to this investigation are to protect all parties involved, and apply to your support person also.  The confidentiality restrictions are also to reduce the likelihood that anyone may be victimised as a result of involvement in the investigation.  Victimisation is unlawful and can include criticising, threatening or abusing someone for making a complaint or being involved in an investigation process.

You can access employee assistance through (the Company) if you would like to - please contact (the Company) HR for further details if feel you require any support in this process.

The table of allegations: This will consist of the exact allegations you are asking the respondent to address during the interview

It is alleged that at 10.30am on Monday 1 January 2018 in the general office area, you behaved in that was inconsistent with the ABCDE (Company) Workplace Bullying policy when you spoke to Mary Co-worker in an intimidating and demeaning manner, when you said in a loud voice “What sort of idiot are you, you need to be sacked”.

More information about drafting allegations can be found here

If you require assistance please contact us enquiries@awpti.com.au
www.awpti.com.au

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