When you receive a complaint alleging serious misconduct of one of your workers, including members of your senior management team, you really have no alternative than to have the complaint investigated.

Workplace Investigation Lawyers NSW

Not having a complaint investigated will leave you exposed to allegations the likes of negligence, incompetence and cronyism… Courts and tribunals are constantly criticising and penalising organisations that fail to deal with workplace complaints appropriately.

“Who is the appropriate person to undertake the investigation?”, is the question you need to focus on.

The answer to this question will depend upon a number of factors including, the seriousness of the allegation and if there anyone in your organisation with sufficient skill, and independence from the parties, to be able to carry out the investigation with credibility. A consideration of these factors will enable you to determine if the investigation should and can be undertaken “in house’ or whether it should be outsourced to experts who have experience in conducting workplace investigations.

Workplace Investigations – What We Need

Our Employment Law Team understands the need for these types of complaints to be investigated urgently and expertly to avoid them escalating out of control. To that end, we make ourselves available to conduct the investigation as soon as possible. To assist commencing the investigation urgently we will have you forward to us any relevant documentation for us to review such as:

  1. your harassment and bullying policy and procedures, code of conduct, equal opportunity or anti-discrimination policies etc;
  2. anything that may exist in writing from the complainant or the respondent/s in relation to this matter; and
  3. a summary of the complaint, response from the complainant/s (if any) and what steps have been taken to-date to try and resolve this matter.

Our investigations typically involve the following four stages:

1. Preparation

a) Reviewing the organisation’s policies and procedures relating to harassment, bullying, discrimination, equal employment opportunity and any code of conduct that may exist;

b) Reviewing the current status of the complaint and what has occurred to date. For example, any documentation that exists relating to the complaint, attempts to try and resolve the complaint by the parties thus far and the outcome of those attempts;

c) Assessment of whether any staff member needs to be suspended while the investigation is completed.

2. Investigation

a) Ensure all parties are made aware of their obligations with respect to confidentiality, victimisation and defamation.

b) Interviewing the complainant and obtaining a statement.

c) Interviewing the respondents and obtaining a statement.

d) Interviewing witnesses as may be necessary and obtaining statements.

e) Further interviews with those involved as may be required to clarify facts or seek a response to new information uncovered during the investigation.

3. Reporting

a) Record all findings, determine outcome and prepare a report for the Board of Directors or Senior Management, as applicable, which details the outcome of the investigation and recommended actions.

4. Resolution

a) If the complaint is substantiated, provide assistance with mediation and/or conciliation processes;

b) Provide assistance with determining appropriate disciplinary action if required.

We can also provide assistance with resolution strategies including mediation and/or conciliation, determining appropriate disciplinary action (if required) etc.

When do I need to conduct an independent Workplace Investigation?

As an employer, you should consider conducting an independent workplace investigation when:

  • You receive a formal complaint related to workplace bullying, harassment or discrimination (complaints that are not just minor employee grievances)
  • There is a workplace matter that involves senior employees
  • There is a workplace matter that could have serious financial implications
  • It is required and requested by a third party, such as WorkCover, WorkSafe or an Insurer
  • Your in-house HR manager is uncomfortable with conducting an internal investigation or they are unable to conduct it objectively
  • You suspect the workplace matter could escalate quickly if an investigation isn’t immediately started and you don’t have the internal HR resources to do so
  • There is a workplace matter and you don’t have any internal HR resources to conduct an investigation

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