Top Ten tips for conducting internal workplace investigations

When faced with issues of workplace misconduct or complaints or grievances employers have a duty of care to respond in a manner that ensures a safe working environment. – Read more about the duty of care

Generally when you receive a complaint you have 3 choices;

1. Outsource to an external investigator (See what the FWC had to say about outsourcing investigations – read more)
2. Conduct an investigation internally
3. Do nothing (you would be amazed at how often this is the preferred option)

Reasons to outsource.

Outsourcing will involve a cost but you should consider it if you don’t have someone in the organisation who has the necessary;
1. Skill/expertise
2. Experience
3. Time (Don’t underestimate the time take up by investigations, time that other HR or managerial work is not being done)
4. Desire (Often HR professionals or managers are tasked with conducting an investigation that they really do not want to do.

Also that you can ensure;
1. A lack of bias, generally people within then organisation know the parties and make have relationships – (Read more about avoiding bias)
2. An absence of any conflict of interest
3. Your investigator understands the investigation process, procedural fairness, evidence, admissible questions and report writing that will withstand scrutiny by tribunals and courts.

Reasons conduct the investigation internally

You answered yes to all of the above and you want to save money.

Recommendations for internal investigations

1. Have your investigators, HR professionals or managers trained to conduct professional investigations it is a cost effective method of helping to ensure that you get it right the first time every time.  – AWPTI can assist by provided investigation training courses – Read more

Follow the TOP TEN tips for conducting internal workplace investigations

1. After receipt of the complaint draft an investigation plan including what needs to be done, who is going to do it,time frames and timelines.
2. Review the complaint (they are mostly written or via email) identify the parties, the complainant, respondent (the person subject of the complaint and witnesses, identify areas that need to be clarified and/or what other information is required and how it is going to be gathered. Draft interview plans.
3. Notify the parties that an investigation is underway.
4. Interview the complainant first to obtain full details of the complaint, to clarify any issues or outstanding information, identify any potential witnesses or other sources of evidence
5. Interview any nominated or known witnesses to corroborate or otherwise the version of events from the complainant and/or fill in any holes in the evidence
6. Review all your evidence in reference to the organisations policies and/or Code of Conduct, has there been a breach if so what kind. Does the behaviour complained about fall within the definition of workplace bullying (read more), or other misconduct such as sexual harassment.
7. Draft a letter of allegation to be sent to the respondent, this letter MUST afford the respondent procedural fairness.
8. Interview the respondent, this interview MUST also afford the respondent procedural fairness. You may also be required to interview witnesses nominated by the respondent. (For more information about  procedural fairness)
9. Review and analyse all of the evidence
10. Make and report your findings based only on the evidence and make recommendations if required.

We hope that this article and these tips are able to assist you to traverse the minefield of workplace investigation misconduct complaints grievances, we have a number of services and products that may be able to assist you;
Outsourced investigations – http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
Investigation training – http://awpti.com.au/investigation-training/
Investigation Document Toolbox – http://awpti.com.au/investigation-toolbox/ (all the documents and guides for conducting internal workplace investigations
Investigation Manuals – http://awpti.com.au/hr-products/ ;(Useful manual to help you to conduct internal workplace investigations including procedural Fairness, Interviewing and Reasonable Management Action)

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

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