Investigating Complaints Part 3

Investigating Complaints Part 3 – Conducting a Risk Assessment

This part 3 of a series is a step by step guide to help you investigate employee complaints.  The guides can also be used to investigate complaints from stakeholders including clients and customers.

This process is by no means the only process, it is however the process I use and have been using successfully for a number of years.

The next stage in the investigation process is to conduct a Risk Assessment.

The Risk Assessment is the what can go wrong and how. It is designed for you to proactively assess the risks and take actions to avoid problems.

In my experience risks come in three areas

  1. Risks to the investigation
  2. Risks to the parties
  3. Risk to the business

Lets look at these in more detail.

  1. Risks to the investigation.
    You must be mindful of anything that will interfere with the investigation such as

    1. Breaches in confidentially
    2. Counter complaints
    3. Complainant and respondent availability and co-operation
    4. Witness availability and co-operation
    5. The respondent interfering with the investigation process (for example, contacting witnesses) and/or continuing to victimise the complainant
    6. The proper handling and storage of evidence
    7. Political influences at the top of the organisation attempting to exert influence
    8. Involvement of lawyers representing parties also attempting to exert influence
  2. Risks to the parties.
    The health including mental health of all the parties must be considered. It is stressful to make a complaint, be the subject of a complaint and even a witness during an investigation.

Consideration should be given to what to do with employees during an investigation such as access to EAP and support, suspension, leave or transfer.

  1. Risk to the business including
    1. The loss of good employees
    2. Adverse publicity
    3. Vicarious liability & litigation
    4. The workplace becoming toxic
  1. Conducting a Risk Assessment at the early stage of an investigation can help you to identify issues and potentially address then become they become major problems.

Next article – Part 4 – Interview planning.

The investigation process is complex, you can learn much more by attending an AWPTI investigation training course such as

General Workplace Investigations 2 day course

Conducting Workplace Investigations 1 day course

Investigating Sexual Harassment 1 or 2 day course

At this time we are only conducting internal courses for organisations.  For more detail please contact us at or 02 9674 4279

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