Sometimes incidents occur in the workplace, which are of such a serious nature that they require a workplace investigation. Traditionally this might be due to allegations of serious misconduct, violence, theft, severe breaches of policy or procedure, sexual harassment, bullying or allegations that need to be investigated.
Taking action directly without a workplace investigation can often be a double edged sword and there have been many instances where employees have had their employment terminated, without investigation, and have then made claims for Unfair Dismissal or claims around discrimination and won. In Australia, these days, you cannot simply fire at will – you need evidence and to follow fair procedure to protect your organisation from employee claims.
If you find your business in this situation, one of the best things you can do is to have a ‘third party’ investigate the situation. This can assist to ensure impartiality and convince those involved, that the investigation is truly independent and not influenced by workplace relationships or biases.
Running an investigation sends a message to your staff that you value them and so want to see justice done, your organisation follows best practice and that unfounded claims will be found out. It assists you to prepare a sound case for any disciplinary action you may take, and protects your business in the case of employee claims. For example did you know that during a workers compensation claim, you are entitled to run your own investigation as well as the Workers Comp investigation? You can submit the findings of your investigation to your insurer for consideration.
The main role of a workplace investigator is to scrutinise all the evidence. We need to make sure of who is involved, their level of involvement, what the main issues are and most importantly does it relate to the workplace?
Any investigation will follow a plan with designed timeframes. All evidence will be confirmed as valid or not. All evidence will be documented and witnesses called.
Less serious incidents may require just a short investigation, while more serious allegations may require a full investigation. When 923|Recruitment & HR is called to complete workplace investigations, we engage in development of an investigation plan, setting of rules for the investigation, collecting all evidence and conducting all interviews, before analysing all the evidence and writing an Investigation Report.
Some of the common issues that may arise when businesses conduct their own investigations, include allowing too much time to elapse, being biased one way or another, not following procedural fairness and prejudging people and situations.
At times, when called in to investigate an issue, we are able to guide the business to an alternative resolution which might include mediation. The outcome that we are looking for is a speedy, procedurally fair, carriage of justice that enables the workplace to return to normalcy as soon as possible and delivers just outcomes to all the participants.
So if you feel there is a situation at work that requires a more senor level of expertise or simply a third party to mediate, contact the 923|HR division. We are skilled workplace investigators and can assist you and your staff through this difficult time.
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