Conducting Workplace Investigations

Conducting Workplace Investigations – Getting it right the first time every time is paramount and a specialist skill.

As I have mentioned many times there is a very different skill set between being a lawyer, a HR professional, a mediator etc and a workplace investigator.

If you are going to outsource make sure it is to a professional and specialist workplace investigator with extensive experience and a comprehensive knowledge of employment law, procedural fairness and the investigation process. (If a person was advertising that they could provide plumbing, electrical, landscaping, carpentry, painting and auto mechanical services, would you take your car to them or would you go to someone who just works on cars?)

I will provide an overview of the workplace investigation process in this article. You will see that this is a complex process and best handled by an expert.

Conducting Workplace Investigations – Steps and skills required in a thorough and professional investigation

1. Complete and careful complaint analysis. This is a vital part of the process, without a thorough and careful complaint analysis the investigation will fail

The complaint analysis provides the investigator with details of;

i. What the complaint is about
ii. What complainant meant when they used terms to describe what has occurred, such as bullied, harassed, intimidated etc.
iii. What other avenues of investigation needs to be pursued
iv. Are there witnesses and if so who are they
v. Are there contradiction in the complaint
Complaint analysis is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course that I run, where participants work thought an actual investigation based on a real world investigation including analysing the complaint.

A 45 minute webinar on complaint analysis is contained in the Workplace Investigation Document Toolbox

2. Careful interview planning for interviews with the complainant and the witnesses.  Your interview plans are based on you complaint analysis, without a good complaint analysis you will not be able to plan effective interviews.
Interview planning is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course.

A 45 minute webinar on interview planning is contained in the Workplace Investigation Document Toolbox

3. Gathering evidence – This includes reviewing and analysing other materials, documents and file notes etc in the same way you analyse the complaint.

4. Careful and professional interviewing of the complainant and the witnesses.  Your interviews are based on your interview plans and complaint analysis, without a good planning and complaint analysis you will not be able to conduct effective interviews. Interviews should be fully documented, I recommend audio recording and having transcripts produced after interview. Statement and interviews notes can also be used.
Conducting the complainant interviews is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course.  Participants interview our facilitators in the roles of the complainant and witnesses

A 45 minute webinar on conducting the complainant interviews is contained in the Workplace Investigation Document Toolbox

5. Evidence analysis and drafting allegation/s for the respondent. It is important to fulfil the requirements of procedural fairness to ensure that you afford the respondent procedural fairness, the first part of this is providing a letter of allegation that provides the respondent with sufficient details and time to respond to the allegations, the right to know. More details about procedural fairness and the role of the investigator can be found here
Evidence analysis and drafting allegation for the respondent is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course

6. Interviewing the respondent. It is important to fulfil the requirements of procedural fairness to ensure that you afford the respondent procedural fairness, the second part of this is interviewing the respondent to allow them to respond to the allegations, the right to be heard. This may also include interviewing witnesses nominated by the respondent. Interviewing respondents is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course

7. Analysis of all the evidence. Once all the evidence has been gathered a careful analysis must be conducted to allow the investigator to make a determination as to whether or not the allegation/s are substantiated or not. Any finding MUST be based on the evidence only.
Final evidence analysis is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course

8. Report writing – The report must be clear and complete – one of the jobs of the investigator is to provide the employer with the VALID reason for dismissal if and only if the evidence supports the recommendation. It is not the job of the investigator to decide the fate of the employee however a recommendation can be worded, “Based in the findings of the investigation it is considered that there sufficient evidence to support a disciplinary outcome up to and including dismissal.”

The final outcome is a matter for the employer. However should the matter go to the Commission the investigator must be able to stand behind their investigation process and the recommendation/s to satisfy the requirement that the dismissal is not UNJUST. If there is insufficient evidence to support a disciplinary outcome the investigator must advise the employer of that finding.
Report writing is an important part of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course

When it comes to dismissal, the investigator MUST ensure that during the investigation process is professional and thorough and that the employee is afforded procedural fairness to ensure that the dismissal is not UNFAIR.

If you fail in any of these areas the investigation will fail and may be criticised if that matter goes to a Court or Commission.

If you would like more details of the Investigating Workplace Misconduct training course please contact me enquiries@awpti.com.au The courses provides participants with the opportunity to discuss a number of case studies and to work through an investigation based on a real world scenario from receipt of the complaint to final report including interviewing our facilitators as complainants, witnesses & alleged perpetrators.

Details of our courses with prices for individuals (yes we will run a course for 1 person) – https://awpti.com.au/live-by-request-training-courses/

For organisations or businesses who wish to have 2 or more employees attend we have a flat rate with no limit on participants contact me for details – phil@awpti.com.au

Participants of the 2 or 3 day courses also receive my complete Workplace Investigation Document Toolbox (50 docs, manuals and videos) valued at $1200.00 included in the cost of the course – https://awpti.com.au/workplace-investigation-document-toolbox/

AWPTI – workplace investigation and workplace training Australia wide and training internationally available.

Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/