Step 4: If there are witnesses
The person investigating should find out if there are any people (‘witnesses’) who can give information on the discipline or grievance issue.
The person investigating can:
- ask a witness to a meeting
- question them about the issue
- ask them to write down what they know or saw (this record is known as a ‘witness statement’)
If a witness does not want to attend a meeting, the employer could ask them to write a witness statement.
You can use the Acas guide to conducting workplace investigations for more details on interviewing witnesses, reluctant witnesses and taking witness statements.
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 guidance on recording investigation meetings, see the Acas guide to conducting workplace investigations.
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.