Workplace Investigations Witnesses

Workplace Investigations Witnesses – In workplace investigations witnesses often play an important part in determining whether allegations made against a respondent are substantiated or not. It is common for a complainant to nominate witnesses in their complaint or during their interview.

When considering the value of interviewing a witness it is important to keep in mind the following;

  1. Who is the witness
  2. What are they – manager, co-worker etc
  3. What if any is the relationship between the witness and the complainant and/or the respondent
  4. Where was the witness, how far away from the incident if that is important
  5. What did the witness potentially see or hear
  6. How does the complainant know what the witness may have seen or heard
  7. Is there any other information/evidence that a witness may be able to provide

Witnesses can often provide information/evidence that supports the complainant’s version of events or in some cases refutes it and they may also provide new information useful to the investigation.

As an external investigator, I must always be mindful of the cost of the investigation and I require authorisation from the client organisation before interviewing a laundry list of witness, therefore I must carefully make judgement calls. I prefer to gather as much evidence as possible so I will interview all of the witnesses I deem necessary.

It is important to remember that you cannot compel a witness to attend an interview of provide evidence.

Workplace Investigation Witnesses – Information v Evidence

It has been said that all evidence is information, but not all information is evidence.

Evidence can be defined as;

1. That which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
2. Something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign
3. At Lawdata presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.
For a workplace investigator evidence is what you rely upon to substantiate or otherwise an allegation.

Interviewing witnesses nominated by the respondent.

It is not uncommon for a respondent to nominate witnesses to support their version of events.

It is important to remember that during a workplace investigation, the investigator must gather and consider ALL the evidence before making a finding.

To ensure procedural fairness it is important for the respondent to be heard and this may be extended to allowing the respondent to provide any and all evidence to support their case or version of events including nominating witnesses to be interviewed.

Respondent witnesses can come in a number of forms:

  1. Those that can provide firsthand evidence of the incident – what they saw or heard
  2. Those who can provide background information about the incident or events leading up to the incident
  3. Those that can provide information about the parties, history, relationships
  4. Those that can only provide hearsay evidence
  5. Those that can only supply good or bad character evidence relating to the parties

It is recommended that you consider:

  • Interviewing witnesses from category 1 and 2 initially
  • Interviewing witnesses from category 3 if it is relevant and often relationships are
  • Don’t interview witnesses from category 4. You need direct evidence not hearsay
  • Make a judgement call about interviewing witnesses from category 5. This information/evidence is usually subjective and may not be relevant unless it is part of a pattern of behaviour that goes to support of witnesses who provide direct evidence.  It may also be inadmissible. Remember you should not consider character, previous behaviour or anyone’s personal feeling making making your findings.

How can AWPTI help you?

On your website we have a number of resources including manuals – https://awpti.com.au/hr-products/

The interview manual – https://awpti.com.au/investigation-interview-manual/

The workplace Investigation Toolbox (that contains 39 investigation documents including all our manuals) – https://awpti.com.au/investigation-toolbox/

The Procedural Fairness manual – https://awpti.com.au/procedural-fairness-manual/

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We can also provide workplace investigation training – https://awpti.com.au/workplace-investigation-training/

Of course we can also provide full investigation services – https://awpti.com.au/workplace-investigations/

In 2020 we will be providing 2 new courses, as we are aware that managers and HR professionals are very busy and getting people together at one time can be a problem Both of these courses are one day in duration that can be conducted internally for your at you location.
* Conducting Workplace Investigations – Focusing on the investigation process, planning, interviewing and report writing.
* Workplace Investigative Interviewing – Focusing on interview planing, preparation and conducting interviews.

In both of these course participants will gain interview experience by interviewing our facilitators in the roles of complainants, witnesses and respondents.

We will come to you at a time and venue to suit your needs.  These course may also be run as open public courses if there is the demand.

Please contact us on enquires@awpti.com.au for more information or you can purchase any of our products via our website www.awpti.com.au