How prohibited conduct and formal complaints come about
All managers have a duty to:
This may take the form of informal resolution (see below) but it may also require investigation.
Formal reports of prohibited conduct may be made by persons who consider that they were affected by the conduct of a UN staff member or by persons who have knowledge of the possible prohibited conduct.
Once they become aware of a complaint, the responsible official will take prompt and concrete action. As a first step, the responsible official will assess the complaint to ensure that it contains the required information and whether the complaint appears to have been made in good faith and there are sufficient grounds to warrant a formal fact-finding investigation. If so, that is when an investigation panel will be appointed.
The informal resolution option
Not every issue relating to staff members’ conduct leads to investigations. The process envisages, where appropriate, the use of an informal resolution. At times, investigations will commence following an informal process which did not resolve the issues.
An informal approach offers an opportunity for non-threatening and non-contentious resolution of the behaviour. The Office of Ombudsman and Mediation Services can assist, while the parties retain ownership of the process. Informal resolution, which could include mediation, is a flexible process, where the needs and interests underlying disputes can surface. The mandate of the Office of Ombudsman and Mediation Services guarantees confidentiality, which allows for candour and honest dialogue. Even after an investigation, informal intervention may be beneficial to help repair relationships. Once again, the Office of Ombudsman and Mediation Services can assist.
In the context of an investigation or during the disciplinary process, it may be necessary to consider whether the subject staff member be placed on administrative leave (as set out in staff rule 10.4 and ST/AI/2017/1 section 11). Such action should normally only be considered where it is not possible to re-assign or redeploy a staff member and in the most serious cases, for example, when the staff member is a danger to staff at large, to the security of the Organization or its property. It may also be appropriate where there is a real and material concern relating to possible retaliation.
The decision as to whether to place someone on administrative leave is for the responsible official with the requisite delegated authority to make. It is not a decision for panels to make. However, if a panel has serious concerns it should refer this issue to the responsible official for consideration.
Panels should be aware that the decision to place a staff member on administrative leave requires consideration of:
What happens after an investigation
Upon receipt of an investigation report, the responsible official can take one of three courses of action:
Responsible officials must review investigations thoroughly, verifying the basis for the findings and whether due process has been followed.
Option 1 (close the case with no action) will be the appropriate course where the alleged conduct has not been established. If the responsible official takes this course, the investigation will advise the affected individual and the alleged offender of the outcome of the matter. Neither the subject nor the complainant is entitled to a copy of the report or the supporting evidence.
Option 2 (refer the case to OHR for possible disciplinary action) will be the appropriate course where the evidence may be sufficient to establish a factual basis for the allegations and the alleged conduct could constitute possible misconduct (the USG-DMSPC will determine whether there has in fact been misconduct). In this instance, OHR will advise the affected individual and the alleged offender of the outcome of the matter.
Option 3 (managerial or administrative action) will be the appropriate course where the evidence may be sufficient to establish a factual basis for the allegations, but the responsible official determines that the established facts would not justify the institution of a disciplinary process. Managerial action may include mandatory training, reprimand, a change of functions or responsibilities, counselling or other appropriate corrective measures.
After the responsible official decides that managerial or administrative action will be taken, they will advise the affected individual and the alleged offender of the outcome of the matter.