What to do if you need a workplace investigation

Failure to investigate workplace misconduct impartially and neutrally can have negative consequences, not only for the workplace and but its employees.

In an ideal world every workplace would be a place of safety, cohesion, and respect. However, regardless of how healthy, happy, and productive a work environment is, there will be difficult times where challenging behaviours, misconduct, allegations, or disputes need to be addressed. To address these inappropriate actions, there can be a need to conduct a workplace investigation. Which is the structured process that is undertaken transparently, objectively, fairly and without biases to determine whether the allegations are substantiated.

Managing a workplace complaint or investigation can be daunting, time consuming and stressful. Keep reading to find out why and when a workplace investigation might be needed and what the benefits are of involving an external investigative service.

Why undertake a workplace investigation?

Failure to investigate workplace misconduct impartially and neutrally can have negative consequences, not only for the workplace and but its employees. An organisation has a responsibility to hold the individual/s accountable for their actions, if they are found to have breaches policies, procedures, workplace practices, laws, and legislations. There is also a necessity to attempt to rectify and resolve the matter.

Some of the impacts of failing to address workplace misconduct and complaints includes:

  • Harm to employees
  • Financial liability
  • Increased workers compensation claims
  • Legal liability
  • Increased employee absences
  • Poor workplace culture
  • Intensified conflict
  • Continuation of inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour

When should a workplace investigation be initiated?

There a several reasons why a workplace investigation should be conducted, and they are centred around allegations of employee misconduct. Such as a suspected breach of polices, procedures, workplace law or their employment contract. Behaviours and actions include:

  • Discrimination – based on gender, age, sexuality, disability, race, and religion.
  • Sexual harassment – behaviour that makes a person uncomfortable or is threatening of a sexual nature.
  • Bullying – repeated and deliberate actions or words against others that cause distress and impact their wellbeing.  
  • Issues of safety – serious accidents, injuries, or near miss incidents.
  • Criminal offence – such as fraud, theft, or physical violence.

When there is a need to undertake a workplace investigation engaging an independent investigator, such as a HR consultant is recommended. The following are reasons why:

  • Independence and impartiality
  • The process will be procedurally fair
  • A high level of confidentiality will be maintained
  • The investigator will have experience in conducting workplace investigations
  • A greater understanding of the legal requirements for undertaking an investigation
  • Reliability of collecting information and data
  • A knowledge of compliance liabilities
  • An understanding of employee wellbeing
  • Experience in managing challenging and sensitive matters

HRTAS are highly experienced in undertaking workplace investigations and supporting organisations to navigate workplace issues and allegations of misconduct. Want to know more? Contact Eve today on 0401 785 529 or eve@hrtas.com.

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