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What is a workplace investigation?

A workplace investigation usually occurs when an employee makes a complaint or allegation in relation to bullying, harassment, breaches of work, health and safety, misconduct, underpayments or other disciplinary matters. It is advisable where possible to engage an external third party to conduct the investigation to avoid any apprehension of bias. Fourtree Lawyers is experienced in conducting investigations on behalf of employers and provide detailed recommendations to place you in the best position to make the best decision for the business.

Why conduct an investigation in the workplace?

A workplace investigation is conducted when there is credible information there may have been significant wrongdoing, misconduct or ethical lapses. The key reasons for conducting a workplace investigation are to ensure a safe and respectful workplace, prevent future issues, protect the rights of employees, address employee concerns, mitigate legal risks, maintain productivity and team dynamics, address performance concerns and build a positive organisational culture.

How do I conduct a workplace investigation?

To investigate the matter thoroughly, the investigator should:

  1. Review the allegations and discuss the matter with you to determine your initial views and how thoroughly each allegation shall be addressed.
  2. Conduct interviews beginning with the complainant to take statements from all relevant witnesses and consider other evidence that will need to be requested.
  3. Assess the evidence and consider contradictory evidence.
  4. Provide the complainant and respondent the opportunity to respond.
  5. Write a detailed investigation report which sets out the allegations and recommended findings.

When should I commence a workplace investigation?

Conducting a workplace investigation is crucial in various situations to maintain a fair, compliant, and respectful work environment. You should commence a workplace investigation in the following circumstances:

  1. Allegations of harassment or discrimination.
  2. Allegations of employee misconduct or policy violations.
  3. Whistleblower complaints.
  4. Employee disputes and conflicts.
  5. Employee concerns.
  6. Employee performance issues.
  7. Accidents or safety concerns.
  8. Changes in employee behaviour.
  9. Concerns raised by management.

It is crucial to have clear policies and procedures in place for conducting workplace investigations. Additionally, investigations should be conducted promptly, thoroughly, and impartially to ensure a fair and effective resolution to the issues at hand.

What is witness confidentiality?

Where evidence contains information from a witness that is unrelated to the investigation, such as information about a medical condition the witness has disclosed, that information does not need to be given to a respondent. Such information can be extracted or redacted before the substance of the evidence is provided to the respondent.

It is good practice to be clear and upfront with witnesses in the investigation that every effort will be made to keep their identity and report confidential in the investigation but the nature of the allegations may make the mean that the witness’ identity may become apparent to the respondent.

Employers need to make sure that the handing of witness information is in accordance with the relevant privacy policy.

What can Fourtree Lawyers do?

Fourtree Lawyers can offer assistance by conducting or responding to a workplace investigation. Workplace investigations should proceed in the following way:

  1. Analyse what needs to be investigated.
  2. Conduct interviews with all relevant parties.
  3. Gather review and analyse evidence.
  4. Identify if further information is required.
  5. Report final outcome recommendations.

We conduct thorough investigations into workplace issues, including allegations of harassment, discrimination, misconduct, whistleblower claims and other matters. Our commitment to excellence ensures that investigations are conducted promptly, efficiently, and with attention to detail.

Why choose Fourtree Lawyers?

Our lawyers possess in-depth knowledge of employment laws and regulations. We understand the complexities of workplace dynamics and are equipped to navigate sensitive situations with professionalism, confidentiality and care.

We offer all new enquiries with a free 15 minute consultation with an experienced employment lawyer. Phone 1300 529 444.



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