22 November 2022
It is a reality that complaints of bullying, sexual harassment and allegations of poor health and safety frequently arise in workplaces. At the root of these issues can be poor staff behaviour, a workplace culture problem, or operating standards that are non-compliant.
If your business receives a complaint from a staff member, or if an alleged health and safety incident has occurred, the best response in most cases is to thoroughly investigate the incident. Conducting a workplace investigation allows you to:
Where safety risk or legal liability exists, a well-conducted workplace investigation is critical to reducing your legal exposure, and avoiding litigation expenses, reputational damage as well as distraction away from managing your business.
Before commencing an investigation, you should consider these questions:
It is best practice for workplace investigations to be conducted quickly, confidentially, sensitively and with procedural fairness to all parties. Workplace investigations should not be biased or favour one person, and should give consideration and appropriate weight to the information gathered. It’s about giving any person under investigation a reasonable opportunity to respond to allegations against them.
Employers conducting workplace investigations should ensure they are comprehensively and fairly run, with all evidence weighed up and considered with recommendations in a final report to management.
Poorly conducted workplace investigations come with a significant risk of compromising the outcome, which increases legal exposure and reduces employees’ trust and confidence in the employer. The consequences are potential legal claims and workplace culture issues. However, with a proper investigation process, employers can protect their business and ensure misconduct allegations are dealt with effectively.
If you need assistance conducting a workplace investigation, or are seeking an external party to manage an investigation, please contact us here.
Author: Ben McKinley
The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.