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Investigations

A guide for RCN members on preparing for investigations at work. 

Preparing for the meeting

Investigations are held for a variety of reasons such as following the receipt of a complaint, allegations or an incident at work.

We don't normally represent members at investigatory meetings as the meeting is to fact-find, however there may be cases where it is necessary.

If you have been called to an investigatory meeting, or have been suspended pending an investigation, you should call us as soon as possible for advice and support on 0345 772 6100.

You have a professional duty to comply with investigations. If you are a nurse, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code requires you to cooperate with internal and external investigations.

Your employer may ask you for a statement and, if so, you should read and follow our guidance on preparing a statement.

Read the local policy that governs the meeting (for example the disciplinary, bullying and harassment or capability policy) and seek information from your employer about any allegations or complaints.

It is good practice for your employer to tell you about the investigatory meeting in writing, but they they are not obliged to provide detailed information about the complaint or allegation at investigation stage.

If we are not attending the meeting, ask a friend or colleague to accompany you as a witness and ask them to take notes.

Read any statement you have prepared and submitted before your meeting.

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During the meeting

When you answer questions, try to be factual, accurate and objective. Where possible you should provide supporting evidence, i.e. times and dates, witnesses or records.

If you cannot remember the event or incident say that you cannot. Do not be rushed into speaking.

Think carefully about your responses and ask for a break if you need it. If you feel a further meeting is necessary for you to provide any supporting evidence or information, request a postponement.

Ask for a copy of the notes or minutes of the meeting so you can review the content for accuracy. You should always seek RCN advice if you have concerns about the content's accuracy.

Do not feel pressurised into signing notes at the meeting itself. Most minutes or notes are not verbatim (word for word). Any amendments or changes should be agreed and only sign the final version once you are happy with the accuracy of the content.

If you are asked to discuss issues you were not informed about - or you feel uncomfortable about what is being asked - then request that the meeting be adjourned until you can obtain further advice. Any agreement will be made at the investigating officer's discretion.

The role of the investigating officer is to make recommendations about whether there is a case to answer and whether a disciplinary hearing is required.

Formal sanctions (like a verbal or written warning) cannot be imposed at in investigatory meeting.

You cannot be forced to give evidence or a statement if it criminally implicates you.

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Disciplinary action

Though formal sanctions such as a verbal or written warning cannot be imposed at an investigatory meeting, the investigation can trigger the disciplinary process and possibly lead to disciplinary action being taken against you.

If this happens, your employer should follow their disciplinary process and at that stage there is a statutory right to be accompanied.

If you face disciplinary action, please call us for advice and support on 0345 772 6100.

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Call the RCN on: 03457726100


Page last updated - 19/04/2018