With the increasing publicity surrounding sexual harassment in Hollywood and the #MeToo campaign it may only a matter of time before there is an increase in the reporting of sexual harassment complaints in the workplace, is your organisation ready to deal with complaints?

Responding promptly and correctly is in the best interests of victims and the organisation.  For the organisation or business failing to deal with complaints can result in costly litigation, the loss of good staff, a toxic workplace culture, adverse publicity and damage to your brand image and reputation.

If you receive a complaint of sexual harassment it is vitally important that;

  1. You respond in a timely and professional manner with a thorough investigation of the complaint.
  2. Your response is fair and balanced taking into accounts the needs of all the parties.
  3. Your investigation is carried out in a professional manner taking into account the investigative procedure, procedural fairness, the rules of evidence and is legislatively compliant.

When you receive a complaint you have three choices;

  1. Conduct an internal investigation
  2. Engage an external investigator
  3. Do nothing and hope for the best (We DO NOT recommend option 3)

Sexual Harassment Investigation Sydney NSW/ACT  - Option 1 - Conducting an internal investigation

If you are going to choose this option make sure that the person conducting the investigation has the skill, experience and the time to conduct an investigation that is;

  • Fair
  • Thorough
  • Unbaised
  • Timely

It is important that your investigator understand the principals of procedural fairness, the rules of evidence and the investigation process.

An important part of your internal investigation is the documentation that will help to get the process right and ensure procedural fairness. AWPTI can assist you with our Investigation Document Toolbox and Procedural Fairness Manual.

We can also assist by training your HR professionals and managers in the investigation process - awpti.com.au/investigation-training/

Sexual Harassment Investigation Sydney NSW/ACT  - Option 1 - Engaging an external investigator

The biggest question when engaging an external investigator is, who do I call? 

Most organisations don’t have to deal with complaints, grievances and allegations of misconduct on an daily basis, so when an external investigator is required they really don’t know what they are getting. Here are some suggestions;

A smaller investigation firm.
Advantages: Often a small group of hand picked investigators with high skill and experience levels.
Disadvantages: Less investigators means less availability, I recommend developing a relationship with a trusted firm to get priority service, contact us for details enquiries@awpti.com.au

Large investigation firm
Advantages: Availability as a result of more investigators
Disadvantages: Quality could be an issue, do you know who you are getting?

Law firms
Advantages: Knowledge of the law
Disadvantages: A possible lack of experience conducting investigations after all it’s not their core business.
Many law firms have relationships with consultant investigators to overcome a lack of internal skill and experience.

Other Professionals (HR consultants, mediators, counsellors, therapists, psychotherapists)
Advantages: None that I can see, as an investigator I wouldn’t advise on recruitment or family therapy the same should apply (in my opinion)
Disadvantages: Lack of skill and experience conducting investigations. They will likely be unlicensed with no actual investigative qualifications. Investigative skill may be an issues especially when it comes to interviewing.

Qualifications and licences required
If you are going to outsource you should be aware that in most Australian states investigators are required to be qualified and licenced. In NSW investigators must hold a Certificate III in Investigation Services and an applicable licence other states have similar provisions.

Certain persons including Police and legal practitioners holding a current legal practising certificate are exempt under the Act.

You can check is an investigator is licenced here

To investigate matters involving Commonwealth Government departments investigators must hold Certificate IV in Government investigations as per the Australian Government Investigation Standards.

Insurance
It is wise to ensure that the investigator has public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

Background
The backgrounds of workplace investigators are varied, however we recommend that you consider investigators who have a background that involves investigation, interviewing, gathering analysis of evidence, report writing, presenting evidence at court/tribunals and a strong knowledge of the law. Many very good investigators have a policing background.

How do you find an investigator?
When issues arise organisations usually have two choices when they decide to outsource;
(1) Go to Google – If you choose a workplace investigator or investigation company from the front page of Google, does that mean you are picking a good investigator or just one that has spent money on SEO or Ad Words?

(2) Engage someone you know, someone you trust, someone you have at least met and discussed your needs with, someone whose background, experience and qualifications you have reviewed. This article may be of assistance – http://awpti.com.au/workplace-investigator/

In relation to Google, Australian Workplace Training & Investigation (AWPTI) ranks highly on Google in a number of investigation and training categories, I haven’t spend a cent of SEO, however I do publish a lot of interesting and I think helpful material via my website blog page http://awpti.com.au/blog/ and via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/philobrien1/ (if we are not connected, please feel free to send me a request).

Sexual Harassment Investigation Sydney NSW/ACT  - Option 3 - Do noting and hope for the best

DO NOT TAKE THIS OPTION. It will be damaging for all the parties involved especially the victim and could be very costly for your organisation

Sexual harassment may lead to litigation as a result of an action in negligence for personal injuries as it did in the case of Mathews v Winslow Constructors (Vic) Pty Ltd [2015] VSC where Ms Mathews was awarded 1.3 millions dollars in compensation

Sexual Harassment Investigation Sydney NSW/ACT

I am always open to meeting with organisations to discuss how I can assist them with a view to developing an on-going relationships.

Choosing the right investigator can save you time, money and worry. getting it right the first time every time is essential.

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide
Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

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