Got a misconduct problem – “Who ya gonna call” – probably not the Ghostbusters!
When an organisation is confronted with issues such as misconduct, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination at some point in time a call must be made about what to do or who to call.
If you are considering conducting an internal investigation there are five questions that need to be answered honestly at the start.
- Do we have the experience required for conducting investigations especially when it comes to conducting interviews? It’s a bit of a catch 22 here as this is not something that you can get without actually conducting a number of investigations. This is why in many cases ex-police make good workplace investigators.
- Do we have the skills needed to conduct an investigation? Do we have a thorough understanding of the rules relating to procedural fairness, conflict of interest, bias, evidence and current legislation and court decisions? This may not something that you can obtain in a basic course. This is why many workplace investigators are not only ex-police but also qualified lawyers.
- Do we have the confidence to interview complaints, witnesses and respondents, to deal with conflicting priorities often in a hostile environment?
- Do we have the time? A thorough investigation takes time – time away from the normal HR activities. Who is doing all the work while you are conducting the investigation?
- Can we ensure that there is no bias? After all as managers and HR professionals you may be dealing with people involved in the complaint in day to day activities outside of the complaint?
- Do we have the experience in writing reports that will withstand the scrutiny of bodies such as the Fair Work Commission?
- Can we afford not to get a professional in? There are many things in business that you would not do yourself. A workplace investigation may involve some cost but a professional investigation may save you a greater cost in the long term.
- An unfairly dismissed employee could be awarded up to $68,350 depending on their earnings. Failing to investigate misconduct property could result in that sort of payout at the FWC, not to mention any other litigation costs. An investigation would most likely be far less and may provide you with sufficient grounds to support your decision to terminate.
I run a number of investigation training courses for HR, aspiring investigators and managers. My parting words are always if in doubt pick up the phone and consult a workplace investigation expert.
Save yourself the stress, workload and the drama, call an expert.