Workplace Investigations

Workplace Investigations

Employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees work in a safe environment.  This includes with regards to health and safety as well as bullying, harassment and discrimination.

From time to time, there may be a workplace incident, allegation or complaint, which requires investigation.  This is known as a workplace investigation.

Generally, the purpose of a workplace investigation is to consider the facts and determine whether any laws, regulations, or internal policies have been violated and, if so, what corrective action should be taken.


What types of matters are typically investigated?

Investigations can take many forms and cover a range of different issues.  Some matters that are typically investigated include:

  • Employee conflicts
  • Bullying or sexual harassment complaints
  • Discrimination and diversity issues
  • Workplace safety issues (i.e. workplace injuries, breaches of health and safety procedures)
  • Employee misconduct (i.e. fraud, misappropriation of funds, embezzlement, stealing)
  • Whistleblower complaints


What steps are involved in an investigation?

Generally, an employer should undertake the following steps when conducting an investigation:

  1. Consider the appropriate person to conduct the investigation (such as an external or independent party, human resources department, or management)
  2. Prepare for the investigation
  3. Interview the relevant parties
  4. Make a finding and a report
  5. Convey the outcome of the investigation to relevant parties
  6. Implement suitable and appropriate resolution actions


Importantly, employers have a duty to provide a healthy and safe workplace.  Accordingly, when conducting an investigation, employers must ensure the investigation is thorough; the investigator remains impartial, confidentiality is maintained by all involved, and the process is conducted as efficiently and timely as possible.


What happens if an investigation isn’t properly managed?

By their very nature, workplace investigations can involve sensitive and contentious issues. Employers should be aware that the mismanagement of an investigation can have serious repercussions, both culturally and legally, for the business. These include breaches of confidentiality, escalated issues between employees, risk of litigation and risk of further costs.

As such, in order to minimise these risks, employers should consider bringing in an experienced, qualified external party to conduct the workplace investigation for them.


Need some help?

Managing an unbiased and thorough investigation can be a challenging and complicated process. Did you know that HR Business Assist can conduct independent, professional investigations into a range of workplace complaints for you?

Contact us today for more information!


HR Business Assist | P 1300 138 551 | E


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