The What and Why of Workplace Investigations

25 March 2022

Accusations of unlawful or inappropriate conduct within a workplace must be taken seriously, but before jumping to conclusions and potentially assuming the worst, it is important to follow a procedurally fair process in order to uncover the facts. Why? Well, if you don’t you could find yourself subject to an unlawful dismissal claim while also inflicting a negative impact on your team, culture, productivity, attraction and retention, and well-being of your employees.

A robust and procedurally fair workplace investigation ensures that managers and decision makers can determine with certainty what further actions are warranted, based on the outcomes of that investigation, and demonstrates to your employees that you take their concerns seriously and deal with them fairly.

When to investigate a complaint.

Every workplace investigation starts with an allegation or complaint. Such allegations or complaints may be regarding more serious matters such as discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying, or may be regarding smaller issues such as management style, communication or allocation of work. Either way, when an allegation or complaint is made it is important to obtain as much specific detail as possible.

You will then need to determine whether the allegation / complaint warrants an investigation. It is important to go over your organisation’s policies and procedures to guide and assist you in making the decision as to whether the matter can be dealt with informally, internally or requires an external investigator.

There are various situations where you may consider using an external investigator:

  • The process needs to be completed in a short period of time.
  • The issues are sensitive or could not be (or perceived to be) handled objectively internally.
  • The investigation needs to be conducted on a ‘need to know’ basis
  • The investigations involve or may involve senior employees
  • There is a potential risk that an organisational policy or workplace law has been breached and the complainant could refer the matter externally
  • Your business does not have the right in house skills or resources
  • Your in-house HR practitioner is not comfortable running or coordinating the process
  • The complaint or issues relate or potentially relate to your in-house HR team

At HumanKapital, our accredited workplace investigators are seasoned experts with proven ‘hands on’ experience dealing with informal complaints through to formal complex investigations from the operational level through to the senior executives.

Do you have a workplace complaint and are not sure where to start? Contact Dean through the link below.