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South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust

The Southern Eastern Trust employs over eleven thousand staff. Within the Human Resources Department, the Employee Relations Section has responsibility for dealing with all the industrial relations matters across the Trust. This includes grievances, disciplinary and Work Well Together Investigations.

Often managers were reluctant to take on the role of investigating matters of concern. There was a small core of managers who we became reliant on to conduct all investigations and to sit on panels to hear cases. The main reasons for this were that managers did not feel they had the knowledge, skills or experience to carry out investigations and in turn no confidence in doing so. In addition to this we also had a number of Industrial Tribunal decisions which had criticised our handling of particular investigations so we knew we needed to take action.

In May 2014, we contacted the Labour Relations Agency to enquire if they held any specific training on how best we should be carrying out an investigation. In discussing this with them we soon realised that we required a “bespoke” programme to address the specific needs which we had identified, namely, how to carry out a professional investigation and how to complete a report.

The discussions with the Labour Relations Agency were centred on the need to widen the pool of investigators to ensure an organisational wide and consistent approach on how investigations should be conducted and how reports should be written. It is worthy to note that the Trade Unions were an integral part of the investigation process (participation and contribution to the development) and therefore involved in the Trust discussions. Their involvement has ensured that relationships between Management and the Trade Unions are stronger and improved with the goal of early dispute resolution and improved quality of investigation reports and subsequent decision making.

The trust operates a “Partnership Agreement” with the trade unions and everyone could see that this programme would be beneficial for the Trust. The trade unions believed that it would improve the quality of the investigations, decision making and also increase the pool of investigators which in turn will mean there is early disputes resolution and a reduction in the protracted timescales to carry out an investigation.

The first workshop was in March 2015 and 14 staff attended. It was a pilot programme for both management and the trade unions. The feedback from this was very positive. All attendees stated that it was very relevant and felt it would improve the quality of investigations. The Trade Union representatives who attended also agreed that every manager needed to attend this programme to enable them to improve the investigation process and the investigator’s skills and knowledge.

Due to the success of the pilot it was agreed that we would roll this programme out to the 200 senior managers across the Trust. We agreed with the LRA a twelve

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The Agency’s Enquiry Point is available to employers, employees, trade unions and others. Enquiry Point advisors provide information and advice on a wide range of employment matters. The Enquiry Point is also an important contact point for identifying circumstances, or clients, who would benefit from being referred to other Agency services.

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Please note that we cannot deal with employment-related enquiries by e-mail. To receive information or advice about an employment-related issue, please telephone our Helpline on Belfast 90 321442 where an officer will speak with you directly about your query. Please note that the Agency can arrange the services of an interpreter if required.

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