Choosing a Workplace investigator – You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes with a trusted Doctor Watson at your side to conduct a workplace investigation, however to conduct professional, fair, timely and legally compliant investigations you need the right background, skill, experience and a high degree of patience.

As a manager or HR professional if you receive a complaint of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment or any other form of misconduct including misuse of IT/internet/email or other resources, breaches of policy or Code of Conduct, fraud just to name a few your first decision is do it yourself or outsource.

Here is What the Fair Work Commission said about outsourcing investigations

If you decide to outsource, what are you options. Most organisations don’t have to deal with complaints, grievances and allegations of misconduct on an daily basis, so in most cases when they engage an external investigator they really don’t know what they are getting. Here are some suggestions;

A smaller investigation firm.
Advantages: Often a small group of hand picked investigators with high skill and experience levels.
Disadvantages: Less investigators means less availability, I recommend developing a relationship with a trusted firm to get priority service.

Large investigation firm
Advantages: Availability as a result of more investigators
Disadvantages: Quality could be an issue, do you know who you are getting?

Law firms
Advantages: Knowledge of the law
Disadvantages: A possible lack of experience conducting investigations after all it’s not their core business.
Many law firms have relationships with consultant investigators to overcome a lack of internal skill and experience.

Other Professionals (HR consultants, mediators, counsellors, therapists, psychotherapists)
Advantages: None that I can see, as an investigator I wouldn’t advise on recruitment or family therapy the same should apply (in my opinion)
Disadvantages: Lack of skill and experience conducting investigations. They will likely be unlicensed with no actual investigative qualifications.

Qualifications and licences required

If you are going to outsource you should be aware that in most Australian states investigators are required to be qualified and licenced. In NSW investigators must hold a Certificate III in Investigation Services and a an applicable licence. In NSW Failure to do so could render the investigator in breach of the  Fair Trading Amendment (Commercial Agents) Act 2016, other states have similar provisions.

Certain persons including Police and legal practitioners holding a current legal practising certificate are exempt under the Act.

You can check is an investigator is licenced here

To investigate matters involving Commonwealth Government departments investigators must hold Certificate IV in Government investigations as per the Australian Government Investigation Standards.


It is wise to ensure that the investigator has public liability and professional indemnity insurance.


The backgrounds of workplace investigators are varied, however we recommend that you consider investigators who have a background that involves investigation, interviewing, gathering analysis of evidence, report writing, presenting evidence at court/tribunals and a strong knowledge of the law. Many very good investigators have a policing background.

How do you find an investigator?

When issues arise organisations usually have two choices when they decide to outsource;
(1) Go to Google – If you choose a workplace investigator or investigation company from the front page of Google, does that mean you are picking a good investigator or just one that has spent money on SEO or Ad Words?

(2) Engage someone you know, someone you trust, someone you have at least met and discussed your needs with, someone whose background, experience and qualifications you have reviewed. This article may be of assistance –

In relation to Google, Australian Workplace Training & Investigation (AWPTI) ranks highly on Google in a number of investigation and training categories, I haven’t spend a cent of SEO, however I do publish a lot of interesting and I think helpful material via my website blog page and via LinkedIn (if we are not connected, please feel free to send me a request).

I am always open to meeting with organisations to discuss how I can assist them with a view to developing an on-going relationships.

Choosing the right investigator can save you time, money and worry. getting it right the first time every time is essential.

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