We all need some support, sometimes

What is the role of a support person in a workplace investigation? It’s really important to remember to offer participants in a workplace investigation the opportunity to bring a support person with them to an interview. A legal representative, their dad, or a co worker, or a union rep are all absolutely fine, as is someone coming along on their own, as long as they have been offered the opportunity to bring support. Having said that, there are a few rules of thumb to remember when it comes to support people. Firstly, the support person can’t be otherwise involved in the investigation. One witness can’t be a support person for another witness. Secondly, they are there for support, not to speak for the witness or act as an advocate. Some individuals really struggle with this and find it hard to stay within the boundaries of their role. Clearly outline the role of the support person at the commencement of the interview, and confirm understanding and agreement on the part of both the witness and support person about their roles. If and when they err, remind them politely but firmly. Lastly, make sure the witness understands that they may confer with their support person in private at any time, if they wish.