Initial considerations of a workplace investigation
Is an investigation needed? If so, what style of investigation to use?
Here is a checklist of eight initial considerations when determining if an investigation is required, and if so what style of investigation to use.
- Determine if an investigation or similar process is required: If there has there been a specific complaint about workplace conduct or another workplace matter, or a concern about specific workplace conduct or other matter has been raised, then a workplace investigation may be required.
- Determine whether the complaint or concern should be investigated or whether an alternative to an investigation should be adopted: Whether an investigation or an alternative to an investigation is appropriate will depend on the circumstances of the complaint or concern. A key consideration will be whether the complaint or concern is sufficiently detailed to enable investigation.
- Determine the type and style of the investigation: Some important considerations in determining the type and style of any investigation include the complexity, seriousness or sensitivity of the allegation and whether any workplace policies or procedures, industrial instruments or individual terms of employment include provisions that cover workplace investigations.
- If the complainant withdraws it is not automatic cancellation of the investigation: Once an allegation of workplace misconduct is made the complainant cannot unilaterally determine whether an investigation will be undertaken or not regardless of their concerns about confidentiality.
- Determine the resources, timing & duration of the investigation at the outset: Before a workplace investigation is commenced the likely resources required to undertake the investigation, and the timing and duration of the investigation, should be estimated.
- Identify an appropriate workplace Investigator: The Investigator should be competent, experienced and not biased (and should not be capable of being seen as biased).
- Decide whether external lawyers should be involved in the workplace investigation: If a workplace investigation is required to enable the provision of legal advice related to the matter the subject of the investigation, or if litigation is contemplated in connection with the matter that is the subject of the investigation, then external lawyers may need to be instructed.
- Agree the scope of the investigation: The scope of any investigation should be agreed with the Investigator as soon as possible once it has been determined that an investigation is required. However, specific allegations may not be available until after some evidence is gathered as part of the investigation process. This may mean the scope changes as the investigation progresses. The scope of an investigation, and any changes to it, should be agreed in writing.
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