Workplace Investigations are a long process which is stressful for all parties involved. So before you start a workplace investigation lets discuss what you should expect and consider.
It is common for employers to want to stand down their employee whilst an investigation is taking place, however this may not always be the best option.
You should consider standing down an employee when, they are in a position to interfere with the investigation or tamper with information, or there is a serious and immediate risk to health and safety.
Standing down an employee should not be a form of punishment and you should always consider the employee innocent until proven otherwise. Before standing down an employee, ask "can they remain in the workplace?".
Choosing an Investigator can be the hardest part of a workplace investigation. The person responsible for the investigation must be able to ensure a fair and just process, whilst not holding any biases towards the parties.
Investigators should not have a predetermined outcome of the investigation. Investigators should also be personally involved in the case or be personally connected to the complainant/s or respondent/s.
Procedural Fairness and Natural Justice
When conducting an investigation there are a number of legal principles that will need to be applied. These include:
The timeframes for a workplace investigation can vary greatly. An Investigator will need time to understand the allegations, interview all complainants, witnesses and respondents, as well as follow up other information and write a report.
A basic investigation can often take up to four weeks, with complex investigations taking up to 6 months.
It is suggested that you talk with your investigator at the beginning of an investigation to identify some expected timeframes. You should remember however that most investigators will only be able to give you a guide and that the timeframes can vary.
For more information contact one of our Employment Relations Advisors on 1300 007 110.