Find the facts, assess the evidence, determine outcomes
Some workplace complaints require a formal investigation to be undertaken. There’s simply no other appropriate response. For example, workplace policies may require serious allegations to be addressed through a formal process. Such allegations may relate to sexual or racial harassment, bullying, or fraud.
Allegations of serious misconduct can have significant consequences for the reputation of individuals and the organisation. It is important, therefore, to address the matter in a timely manner through an impartial and procedurally fair investigation.
A properly conducted independent professional investigation will enable an employer to take, and defend, appropriate and proportional disciplinary outcomes.
We can help.
We’re experienced, accredited and qualified workplace investigators. We’ll provide you with a seamless service to resolve workplace issues, from beginning to end. We will:
- Help you work out if an investigation will be appropriate in the circumstances
- Gather and assess the evidence
- Provide you with a clear report to enable you to resolve and conclude the matter
We’ll act promptly, with attention to detail and transparency to minimise the impact on productivity and on the health and wellbeing of individuals and on the culture of a workgroup.
What’s the process for workplace investigations?
One of the most critical stages of a workplace investigation is the initial discussion, in which we clarify whether an investigation is appropriate and, if so, the steps to be taken.
During our initial discussion, we will:
- Gather information about the matter (for example, written complaints and workplace policies)
- Identify the issues and objectives to inform a discussion about the pros and cons of an investigation
- Clarify the proposed scope or terms of reference, timeframes and steps to be taken
Good planning is crucial to ensure procedural fairness so, after assessing the initial information, we will talk with you to:
- Confirm the scope or terms of reference of the investigation
- Discuss which allegations are sufficiently clear to be procedurally fair to put to a respondent, or steps to be taken to clarify the allegations
- Discuss procedural fairness requirements (including providing parties with information about the process, their rights and responsibilities, and, where relevant, the opportunity to have a support person)
- Discuss timeframes for each step to ensure the process is thorough, but also completed in a timely manner
Conducting the investigation we will:
- Gather and assess relevant written materials
- Conduct interviews with the complainant, respondent and witness(s)
- Provide parties with an opportunity to respond to contradictory evidence
- Provide you with a well constructed report that clarifies the findings and reasoning
After the investigation we will, if requested and appropriate, discuss options to reset working relationships in the post-investigation working environment.
Our experience in workplace investigations
Along with more than 30 years’ experience as workplace investigators, our expertise in mediation and culture reviews, ensures we bring a diversity of skills, understanding and sensitivity to our approach when undertaking workplace investigations.
Our qualifications and experience means your organisation will benefit from an investigation conducted in a comprehensive, procedurally fair manner, with attention to detail and clear reasoning in our reports.
If there’s a potential issue concerning bullying, harassment or other forms of misconduct, a formal investigation may be appropriate
We clarify the scope of the investigation, the wording of the allegation and the best approach to ensure compliance with your policies and procedural fairness obligations.
We interview the relevant parties and assess the evidence.
We provide you with a report and findings, based on the balance of probabilities, clearly and succinctly explained.
Professional Workplace Investigation Services:
Frequently asked questions about workplace investigations
What is procedural fairness?
Procedural fairness in a workplace investigation means the investigation must be fair.
- There must be a fair hearing – where the respondent understands the process and potential outcomes, is able to respond to sufficiently specific allegations and contradictory evidence, provide evidence of mitigating circumstances and have a representative or support person
- There is an absence of bias – as the investigator has no conflict of interest, is seen to be impartial, independent, diligent and makes findings without bias or prejudice
- Relevant evidence – is used to make findings based on the balance of probability and irrelevant matters are not taken into consideration
- Confidentiality – is maintained to protect the integrity of the investigation and the reputations of all parties and the organisation
A failure in procedural fairness may have a legal impact. The respondent may take issue with any disciplinary action or termination of employment. If they take legal action (for example for unfair dismissal), the organisation’s decision may be set aside, and the respondent reinstated or compensated. A properly conducted investigation will help minimise any legal risk, or if legal action is taken, will help the organisation defend its decisions and actions.
Is an investigation the appropriate response to address all workplace complaints?
No. There are a number of reasons a formal investigation may not be the appropriate response, including, but not limited to: allegations that are malicious, vexatious, arose a long time ago, have already been addressed, or, are so vague and general in nature that it would be procedurally unfair to put them to a respondent.
In such a situation, where it would not be appropriate to conduct a formal workplace investigation to address concerns, it is likely to be appropriate for the employer to still respond to the matter as the fact that concerns or allegations have been raised could suggest there are health and safety issues, relationship tensions, cultural issues or other factors that need to be addressed. Alternatives could include an initial assessment of the situation mediation or facilitated discussions, or an OHS-focused ‘healthy, positive and effective culture‘ response. We are able to assist you with each of these alternative responses.
What are the advantages of independent workplace investigations?
When workplace issues are left unchecked problems can escalate. For example, increased negativity, complaints, presenteeism, unplanned leave and workers compensation claims for work related stress and other negative impacts.
The sooner a workplace issue is identified and managed, the better. For matters requiring workplace investigation, often the response time is critical. If there’s an allegation of misconduct, the employee may be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. It is important for both health and procedural fairness reasons to complete an investigation as promptly as possible.
These are good reasons to engage an independent workplace investigator who can ensure that any investigation is seen to be independent, impartial and robust enough to withstand legal scrutiny.
If you find yourselves juggling many balls in your daily work, adding a workplace investigation can increase the pressure, especially if you need to bring yourself up to speed on:
- How to conduct an investigation
- How to ensure it’s fair for everyone
- How to avoid bias if you are perceived to be involved in both the investigation and the decision making steps
Engaging an independent investigator not only relieves you of those pressures, but it also sends a message to the workforce that management is taking the issue seriously and committed to addressing the matter in a thorough, impartial, timely and procedurally fair manner.
We’ll help you find the facts and assess the evidence with our workplace investigation services
Expert investigations, professional impartiality, and exceptional attention to detail