A workplace investigation is a process of fact finding. An investigation should commence as soon as possible after you become aware of a serious conflict or allegation of misconduct in your workplace. Why? because ultimately, engaging in timely and effective workplace investigations will save your business time and money.
Beneficial for your Business
By dealing with conflicts and allegations immediately upon becoming aware of them, the potential for a matter to escalate is reduced. Additionally, engaging in proper workplace investigations shows your employees that you respect them and their rights, leading to better organisational culture in which employees are committed and motivated to work for the good of the organisation.
Businesses are forever engaging in risk minimizing practises. Workplace investigations are yet another risk management tool. Let’s take an example.
Employee “A” sexually harasses employee “B”. Employee “B” feels stressed and uncomfortable and takes several days off work. This costs your business, hinders productivity and reduces client service. Due to inadequate workplace investigation procedures, Employee B makes a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under theSex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). The complaint may progress to the Federal Circuit Court. Once the complaint ends up in court, your business faces legal fees and the risk of the matter making its way into the media with associated reputational damage.
Where to from here?
Workplace investigations may be subject to challenge. It is therefore important that you establish a process for investigation conflicts and allegations that is rigorous and procedurally fair.
See our blog article from 14 November “Code of Conduct Investigations: Is Your Evidence Water-Tight” (LINK) for an example of poor workplace investigations in Francis v Patrick Stevedores Holdings Pty Ltd  FWC 7775. The article also offers advice on workplace investigations.
If your organisation needs help with workplace investigations please contact Sarelle Woodward, Senior Associate.