Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation | Queen's University IRC

Queen's University IRC

Queen's University

Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation

ALR 302
4 Credits

Building Internal Capacity to Effectively Deal with Workplace Complaints

According to research conducted by Queen’s IRC, today’s labour relations practitioners are spending an increasing amount of time — up to 25 percent of their efforts — conducting formal and informal investigations of workplace complaints. The complaints may relate to harassment, conflicts of interest, discrimination, whistle blowing, or many other difficult types of cases, and are partly a response to tougher human rights and occupational health and safety laws. But research also shows that many HR managers and LR practitioners, including union representatives, feel they are inadequately prepared for the rigours of investigating complaints. This program gives LR Practitioners hands-on training on how to assemble the facts of a case without worsening the situation.

Learn how to plan the investigation, conduct interviews, and properly weigh the evidence. Receive on-the-spot coaching to ensure the skills you develop can be immediately and effectively applied back on the job.

NEW MODULE: Additionally, this course brings participants full circle by providing insight and concrete strategies to restore the workplace after a formal investigation.

Tour of the Program

a) Selecting the Right Path

Which fact-finding process is best? Your session leaders will discuss the differences between a formal investigation and an informal workplace assessment.

  • A formal investigation is held to comply with the employer's responsibilities under human rights or other legislation.
  • A workplace assessment is a non-blaming process that offers generic results and recommendations that may be shared with staff.

You'll be guided through the four stages of the fact-finding process. Learn how to pre-screen complaints and ensure you select the correct process and terms of reference for the issue. Review the legal framework and key procedural aspects and principles.

Ultimately, the investigation process you'll follow will depend on several factors:

  • What are the dynamics of conflict, in terms of interests and relationships?
  • What are the applicable policies?
  • What is the desired outcome: Deterrence or confidentiality? Compliance with statutory obligations? Workplace restoration?

b) Preparing the Plan

An investigation encompasses four stages: pre-investigation screening, planning the investigation, interviewing, and preparing the interview report. Learn the key elements to preparing a plan:

  • Listing and numbering the important questions to be answered
  • Identifying the right people to be interviewed
  • Identifying the records to be examined and the person from whom they should be obtained

You'll be guided through this process to learn how to identify witnesses and relevant documentation, and how to craft essential questions.

c) The Art and Science of Interviewing

What are the key issues that need to be considered when staging an interview? Using a case study based on an actual situation as well as tips on empathetic listening, you will apply your learning and use your skills to interview witnesses and handle difficult behaviours, and be coached along the way. You'll also take away a list of sample questions to get you started.

Learn how to:

  • Prepare for the interview, including how to build the conditions for the best outcomes and how to ensure fairness
  • Open the interview and set the context
  • Craft the right questions, based on the five W's: who, what, where, when, why
  • Deal with reluctant, uncooperative, or emotional witnesses
  • See through smokescreens and issues unrelated to the complaint at hand
  • Conclude the interview on the right note

d) Gathering and Documenting Evidence

Drawing on templates and structured formats, you will practice compiling evidence to support your investigative findings. Experienced leaders will walk you through evidentiary do's and don’ts. You will also learn how to identify useful evidence based on its relevance, credibility, and admissibility in legal proceedings.

e) Reporting Your Findings

What are the essential components of an investigative report? How do you assess and compile evidence? Work with your learning team to create a written summary of your findings and analysis, including the terms of reference, process followed, summary of evidence, findings in dispute and not in dispute, and analysis.

This exercise will conclude with a comparison of your group work with a sample fact-finding report specific to the workshop case study.

f) Navigating Through the Common Pitfalls

Session leaders will help you recognize the most common barriers to an effective fact-finding exercise.

The possible pitfalls are many, including:

  • Institutional delay
  • Difficult witnesses
  • Involvement of lawyers
  • Lack of direct access to witnesses
  • Investigator bias

By the end of this module, you will have several organizational strategies that can be deployed to ensure consistent results.

g) Post-Investigation Considerations

Learn how to follow through after an investigation, from notifying parties to addressing on-going workplace issues.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this four-day program, you will be better positioned to:

  • Pre-screen complaints and select the correct process
  • Plan the investigation using a step-by-step guide
  • Participate in a joint union-management investigation process
  • Conduct effective interviews
  • Handle difficult witnesses
  • Gather and assess evidence
  • Write an investigation report


Organizational Benefits

  • Significant savings in third-party fact-finding costs
  • Faster and more streamlined preparation for investigations
  • More reliable investigation results
  • Greater internal capacity for gathering evidence
  • Investigative reports that comply with statutory obligations
  • Ability to assess quality of report and findings

Takeaway Tools

  • Fact-Finding Workbook
  • Interview Templates
  • Sample Fact-Finding Reports

Who Should Attend

Managers, supervisors, union officials, and Labour Relations and Human Resources professionals who are involved in statutory and non-statutory harassment fact-finding as well as other types of workplace investigations

Facilitators and Speakers

Lead Facilitator(s)

Anne Grant

Anne Grant has practised as a full time mediator and conflict resolution professional since 1994.  Anne’s dispute resolution practice includes extensive mediation of labour and civil disputes. She specializes in the assessment and restoration of poisoned work environments as well as conducting a range of workplace investigations. Currently she is the lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Labour Relations Foundations, Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation, and Workplace Restoration programs, and Past President of the ADR Institute of Ontario.

In the area of labour relations, Anne has facilitated the development of collective bargaining mandates, assisted workplace parties to implement...

Read the full bio for Anne Grant

Guest Speaker(s)

*The roster of speakers is subject to change.

Venues and Accommodations

Apr 19-23, 2021 (10am-4:30pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Oct 18-22, 2021 (10am-4:30pm ET): Virtual Seat

Queen’s IRC will deliver this program virtually, via Zoom, and all participants will attend the program live as it happens. Plan to use video, as appropriate, and have a dedicated working space to participate and engage with the class.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for a program?

You can register online, call us toll-free at 1-888-858-7838, or email us at Once you register, we will send you a confirmation by email. Information about the program location, check-in time, and the agenda will follow.

How do I pay for the program?

If you are registering online, you may pay by Visa or MasterCard.  You may also choose to be invoiced first, and pay by cheque (payable to Queen's University) or credit card. You may also wish to call us with your credit card number to make the payment.

If your organization is tax exempt, we will require a copy of your tax exemption certificate.

Do you offer discounts?

We offer an Early-Bird discount for in-person programs. If you register 60 days before the start of a program, you will save $300 on the tuition of four- and five-day programs, and $150 on two- and three-day programs. Virtual programs are offered at approximately 15% less than our in-person rates and are not eligible for an Early-Bird rate.

If you register three people from the same organization in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 10% discount on program fees. If you register five or more people in the same program at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount. These discounts apply to both in-person and virtual training.

If you know you will be pursuing a Queen's Certificate and would like to remit tuition in one payment before your first program, we offer a 10% discount on program fees. Contact us at for more information.

Please note that only one discount may be applied.

What is included in the registration fee?

Program fees include tuition, workbook materials, lunches, and some dinners. You are responsible for transportation, accommodation, and some meals.

Once I enroll in a program, may I cancel without penalty?

Substitutions are permitted with no penalty 8 days or more from the program start date.
Substitutions 7 days or less before the program start date will be subject to a $500 charge.
Transfers and cancellations are permitted with no penalty up to 15 days prior to the program start date.
Transfers and cancellations 14 days or less from the program start date will be subject to a 100% charge of the program fee.

Where does the program take place?

Our programs typically take place at a hotel. This information can be found in the tab above, called Venue and Accommodations.

I would like to make my travel plans.  What are the start and end times for the program?

Mastering Fact-Finding and Investigation starts at 8:30 a.m. on the first day. (Registration runs from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m.) The program finishes at approximately 3:00 p.m. on the last day.

If I am working towards a Queen's IRC Certificate, which course should I take first?

You may take the programs in any order that reflects your learning needs at the time. Our certificates feature a core program or programs that introduce you to what we consider the core competencies of the field. The remaining programs offer a deeper exploration of each area. For this reason, we find that participants in the certificate stream benefit most by taking the foundational program first.

My level of expertise is above the foundational program for the certificate I am working on. Do I still need to take that program to earn a certificate?

Queen's IRC offers participants maximum flexibility to customize their individual training needs. Upon request, participants with advanced expertise may skip the foundational program, and choose another program from our entire program lineup, for credit towards a certificate. Participants must earn 12 credits to earn a certificate.

How long do I have to complete a certificate?

We attach no timeline for achieving your certificate. Once you have earned a credit, you have earned the credit. We do recommend, however, that participants complete their certificate within one to six years. Most people earn their certificates within three years.

What if I want to take one of your programs but do not want to pursue a certificate?

That's fine. All of our programs may be taken individually, and you can mix and match the courses in labour relations, human resources and organization development, depending on your learning needs. At the conclusion of each program, you are given a certificate of completion.

I have taken a custom program with the IRC.  Will this count towards a certificate?

Yes. Participants who take an IRC custom program may also use their training days as credits towards a certificate.

If I have other questions, who may I speak with personally?

For a program registration query, please feel free to call us at 1-888-858-7838 or 613-533-6628. To reach the Director and staff members, consult our online directory. To reach one of our facilitators, please contact Stephanie Noel at 613-533-6000 ext. 77088 or