Step 4: If there are witnesses
Witnesses can give important evidence that might help decide the outcome of a disciplinary or grievance case.
If there’s anyone with information about the discipline or grievance issue (a ‘witness’), the person investigating can ask them to write it down (a ‘witness statement’).
If appropriate, the employee under investigation can also get witness statements.
The person investigating can also have a meeting with a witness to ask them what they know or saw. Someone should take notes during the meeting. At the end of the meeting, the witness should sign the notes and these can also form a witness statement.
You can use the Acas guide to conducting workplace investigations (PDF, 379KB, 36 pages) for more on:
- taking witness statements
- interviewing witnesses
- if a witness refuses to give a statement
Talking to a large number of witnesses
If a large number of people witnessed the same incident, the person investigating should:
- talk to some of the witnesses
- check whether they’re broadly saying the same thing
The person investigating does not have to talk to all witnesses, unless either of the following apply:
- they feel they’re not getting enough information
- there are significant differences in what the witnesses say
The person investigating can make audio recordings of interviews or assign a person to take notes, depending on:
- what is most appropriate or possible
- what your organisation’s policy or rules allow
- if the person being interviewed agrees
For more on recording investigation meetings, see the Acas guide to conducting workplace investigations (PDF, 379KB, 36 pages).
Keeping it confidential
All witness statements or interview records must be kept confidential.
If information needs to be shared with other people, the employer must first get consent from the person who gave the information. You can find out more about obtaining consent on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website.