Workplace Investigations

What is a Workplace Investigation? What will it cover?

A workplace investigation can be required in many different circumstances when there are allegations of bullying, harassment, discrimination, or misconduct by an employee.  A workplace investigation is the process where all related parties and employees are interviewed, and the relevant documents reviewed.  The result of the investigation would be a finding of whether the allegation is substantiated or not, this decision can be made on the balance of probabilities.

Why hire external workplace investigators? What are the benefits?

Workplace investigations must provide procedural fairness to the employees involved.  Procedural fairness can be compromised by conflicts of interest, bias or favouritism between employees.  External workplace investigators are independent and experienced in ensuring that all employees are treated fairly.

What happens during a workplace investigation? What is the process?

During a workplace investigation we would:

      1. interview the employees involved;
      2. review the relevant documents; and 
      3. provide advice on whether the allegations are substantiated.

Our workplace investigation service

An external workplace investigation will allow you to continue to focus on your core business.  As experienced workplace investigators we will ensure that the process is fair, independent and thorough.  

Many organisations do not have the internal resources to deal with the many complaints regarding bullying, harassment, discrimination or misconduct raised by employees in a way that is independent.  Engaging us will ensure that the workplace investigation is undertaken according to industry best practice and aimed to meet an employer’s obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). 

Why choose us?

Once you become aware of allegations of bullying, harassment, discrimination or misconduct you may wish to engage us as workplace investigators if:

      1. the investigation cannot be done independently without bias or free of a conflict of interest;
      2. your organisation does not have the resources, skill or expertise to undertake the investigation;
      3. the allegations involve senior employees, directors or executives; and/or 
      4. the outcome of the investigation may be subject to third party review from suppliers or customers. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does my employee have to participate in a workplace investigation?

Employees are required to comply with lawful and reasonable directions.  Therefore, an employer will usually be able to direct an employee to effectively participate in a workplace investigation.  If The employee refuses to participate in the workplace investigation or is overly obstructive, then your organisation may be able to take disciplinary action including dismissal. 

How do you investigate workplace misconduct?

In many circumstances, employers will be required to investigate misconduct including where there are allegations of bullying, harassment, discrimination.  Investigating workplace misconduct must be a thorough and fair process.  

The workplace investigation must be free from bias, favouritism or a conflict of interest.  The workplace investigation will usually involve consultation with all the affected employees with the intention of finding the truth.  Sometimes it is difficult to uncover the truth due to employees being uncomfortable or because they have ulterior motives.  Our expertise and independence will ensure the process and outcome of the investigation is well founded and complaint with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). 

What are the employees rights during a workplace investigation?

In most circumstances, an employee will be required to effectively participate in a workplace investigation.  However, the employee must be treated fairly and not be discriminated against or adversely treated because of their involvement in the workplace investigation.  

What triggers a workplace investigation?

A workplace investigation may be triggered by many different circumstances.  In our experience the most common triggers for a workplace investigation are:

      1. Bullying;
      2. Sexual harassment;
      3. Discrimination;
      4. Breach of policy;
      5. Theft;
      6. Intoxication;
      7. Assault;
      8. Fraud;
      9. Breaches of confidentiality;
      10. Inappropriate social media use; and/or
      11. Cyber breaches.

If you have become aware of any of these allegations then, MJT Law will be able to investigate the matter and determine whether they are substantiated or not.  

What happens after a workplace investigation?

If allegations are substantiated 

The organisation should make a determination on whether the findings are serious enough to warrant disciplinary action.  If so, then it may choose to take further action against the employee including dismissal.

If allegations are not substantiated 

The organisation should inform the employees of the outcome and reassure them that they are welcome to make further complaints in the future.  The employer should also continue to work closely with the employees involved to repair any lost trust and confidence.

If allegations cannot be either substantiated or not substantiated – on the balance of probabilities it happened/did not happen 

If, on the balance of probabilities the allegation is not substantiated then: the organisation should inform the employees of the outcome and reassure them that they are welcome to make further complaints in the future.  

If, on the balance of probabilities the allegation is substantiated then: the organisation should make a determination on whether the findings are serious enough to warrant disciplinary action.  If so, then it may choose to take further action against the employee including dismissal.

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