The need for workplace investigations when employees have committed prior personal crimes is increasingly becoming a subject of concern among employers. Knowing the past criminal background of your employees can help you make an informed decision when it comes to their eligibility for certain positions and even in overall trustworthiness. Careful research and investigation into their personal backgrounds can reveal previous crimes committed by these individuals that might be relevant to your decisions and the safety of other members of your organization.
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Workplace Investigation Explained
A workplace investigation is essentially a structured process to determine the facts around complaints of harassment, discrimination, misconduct, or other issues in the workplace. While inquiries may vary in structure and complexity, there are some standard principles and laws in place that serve as a guide for employers. Many organizations have their own specific policies and procedures that meet the requirements of legislation or industry expectations.
These inspections provide employers with an opportunity to discuss alleged incidents involving employees or external parties and arrive at possible resolutions. It is critical that investigations occur in a manner that complies with applicable legislation, including human rights legislation and health and safety regulations.
The main purpose of an investigation is to collect evidence relevant to a complaint or incident and draw logical conclusions based on those facts. Through interviewing witnesses, examining records, etc., the investigator can establish what probable cause exists for accusing someone of wrongdoing in the workplace―such as sexual harassment, discrimination due to race or gender, theft of team supplies by any employee, etc. As such, they can be an invaluable tool when it comes to determining whether previous criminal acts have been committed by current employees.
Factors to Consider
To get the most out of an investigation, there are certain factors that should be considered before the investigation begins.
For example, you should ensure that complete confidentiality is maintained and appropriate resources are allocated for the investigation. This can help prevent any repercussions from becoming public or giving an impression of bias or injustice being caused by your decision to investigate them.
Additionally, workplace investigations should involve documentation review as well as interviews with witnesses and evidence collection. This can help ensure that all relevant information is gathered in order to make accurate assessments of the events at hand. You also should be sure to provide clear instructions for anyone participating in the process to follow so that their contributions remain fair and impartial throughout.
Finally, you should have an experienced investigator on hand who understands all applicable laws associated with an internal inquiry. They can use their comprehensive understanding of laws and regulations to get better results while avoiding potential legal complications along the way. With expert guidance, you will feel confident in resolving conflicts within your organization more efficiently while adhering to integrity protocols within your organization’s culture too.
What are the challenges?
The challenges include ensuring the investigation is thorough; the evidence is accurate; relevant context is included; consistent protocols are followed throughout phases of the process including interviews; proper procedures are followed for dealing with internal citations, suspensions, or other forms of discipline; and any steps taken by HR represent a good faith effort on behalf of the employer as well as any affected employees and parties in support of creating a safe working environment. Additionally, employers must be certain appropriate reporting channels exist so that any illegal activity is reported immediately to authorities.
The role of HR
In addition to overseeing compliance issues related to an investigation into a potential criminal act by an employee, HR can help reduce tension among team members while safeguarding company interests by initiating process improvements that investigate actual job performance rather than personal behavior outside work hours.
It’s also important for HR personnel to provide support during these times in order for employees’ mental health needs not to be overlooked. In some cases involving injury matters or violence-related incidents that are reported by one worker against another, it is advised for employers not just to evaluate physical evidence from police reports but also consider involving counseling services or third-party intervention.
Tips for Conducting an Effective Investigation
- Know your legal obligations: Before you start the process, make sure you understand the applicable laws, including any federal or state statutes or regulations. Familiarize yourself with the applicable labor agreements or collective bargaining agreements as well as any confidentiality requirements that apply.
- Interview witnesses carefully: Take careful notes of any relevant information gathered during interviews with witnesses and ask follow-up questions if necessary. Interviews should always be conducted in private, without bias or retaliation, and without disrupting an employee’s other job duties while they’re being interviewed.
- Make sure documents are collected properly: Whenever possible, documents used in an investigation should be marked “confidential” and stored securely away from other records so that their contents remain protected from unintended parties. Be sure to include full copies of all documents used in the file in order to have a complete record of what transpired during the investigation for potential later use if necessary.
- Investigate previous criminal history: Depending on your state laws, it may be possible to investigate a potential hire’s criminal background before hiring them by searching public records available online or through court clerks. This can help employers avoid hiring people who may have committed crimes in the past that could lead to liability issues down the road if they were employed by you at some point
Workplace investigations are not only important for solving crimes that have been committed in the workplace, but they can also help to prevent future crimes from being committed. By conducting a thorough inquiry, you can learn whether or not your employees have been involved in any previous crimes and take steps to ensure that they do not commit any crimes in the future. Investing in a good workplace investigation will help to keep your business safe and secure and ensure that your employees are held accountable for their actions.