Workplace Investigations

Employee misconduct and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace occurs more often than you think and can have serious consequences for those involved. Matters arbitrated in a court or tribunal, can on average end up costing small businesses $15,000 to $50,000 in legal and counsel fees!
Organisations usually task internal HR with managing workplace investigations but due to the nuanced and complex nature of most investigations, staff often don't have the up-to-date case law knowledge, or the dedicated time needed to conduct a thorough investigation.




What triggers a Workplace Investigation?

Most commonly, requests for workplace investigations come with allegations that raise or could raise legal issues. These can include possible breaches of workplace law relating to employment terms, discrimination complaints (e.g. age, race, family responsibilities), sexual harassment or workplace bullying.

This approach can also be used for concerns of a non-legal nature such as employee misconduct (e.g. dress code violations, nepotism) or personality 'clashes'.

Why use a third party Investigator?

The first question that needs to be addressed when considering the best approach to investigating a complaint is whether internal HR are the right people to investigate the matter. Consideration should be given to skill level and availability (investigations are time critical and can be time consuming), and whether there is a conflict of interest (real or perceived) due to a relationship with either of the parties or other factors.

In many cases, even when a client has been confident in addressing these considerations, there is still a risk of the process being seen as one-sided. While it might be understood that HR is on the side of the people, they still ultimately need to protect the organisation's interests as well. This can lead to employees feeling like they aren't being given a fair go during the investigation process.

Outsourcing workplace investigations to an independent specialist removes the perceived bias towards either the employer or the accused employee.  It further avoids managers being distracted from the daily principal responsibilities.

Another key benefit to using an independent workplace investigator; insight into potential underlying causes of the issue. This means we can also assist in addressing any policy/procedural issues that may be identified and develop post–investigation strategies to help rebuild any affected working relationships.

Investigation process

TP human capital's workplace investigator is an experienced Senior Workplace Relations Specialist with over 14 years of legal practice experience investigating discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and other misconduct matters. This experience spans hundreds of workplace investigations across a diverse range of industries and organisations.

  • Geographic region/coverage
  • IR Law/Legislation reference
  • Fair work/ commission

TP human capital's investigation process incorporates five main steps:

  1. Client briefing. An initial briefing session is held with the client to ensure we're across relevant history and other background information.
  2. Information gathering. Data pertaining to the investigation is collected in preparation for the investigation including nature of the complaint, parties involved, relevant performance and behavioural information.
  3. Relevant parties are interviewed and documented.
  4. Evidence is assessed and a final report of the findings is developed and presented to the client.
  5. We advise on suitable resolution activities for the parties to undertake. We can also provide ongoing assistance in leading or supporting these activities.

Depending on your specific needs, our Workplace Investigator can either join your internal investigation team or they can lead an entirely independent process.

TP Human Capital investigate efficiently, thoroughly and in a timely manner.  We are an impartial entity and are fair to both employers and employees.  We ensure that we deliver procedural fairness for all parties involved and ensure compliance with relevant legal and regulatory frameworks.

Final note

A workplace investigation is one of the toughest responsibilities of a HR professional. Matters need to be handled in the strictest confidence, but at the same time there is an expectation that those involved will be kept informed of the investigation's progress. It's an incredibly challenging situation, but one that you don't have to tackle alone.