Australian workplaces today have a set of clear and established legal obligations to protect workers from dangerous, unlawful or inappropriate conduct in the workplace. However, claims of bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment, fraud, adverse action and unfair dismissal may still arise in all types of workplaces.
Our Workplace Investigations – 2nd Edition title is the definitive Australian guide for the demanding task of investigating allegations of workplace wrongdoing.
Investigating allegations of such misconduct will be challenging for many reasons — employees and contractors may be upset, and people may be defensive and anxious to assign blame elsewhere. Some witnesses or participants may be reluctant to participate in the investigation or may give a biased account of the circumstances underlying it, due to friendship, loyalty or animosity towards some of their colleagues.
When establishing the facts and the relevant context for the misconduct, it is imperative to get the process right, as the fairness or adequacy of an investigation is increasingly subject to challenge and subsequent scrutiny by a court or tribunal.
If the process is found to have been flawed or procedurally unfair, there can be negative repercussions for the organisation and its senior staff.
Many organisations do not have a thorough and comprehensive procedure for incident investigation, so Workplace Investigations provides essential support for in-house investigators and consultants to manage the risks, challenges and obligations that are inherent in making judgments about employees’ conduct.
You will need a framework that sets out clearly and simply the process you need to follow to conduct a sound, procedurally fair and defensible workplace investigation. This involves learning how to:
- judge when an investigation is required
- plan and scope the investigation appropriately
- collect and analyse evidence
- make findings of fact in a procedurally fair way
- assess any proven conduct against established policies and procedures, and
- consider whether the organisation should take further steps to improve working relationships or manage risks.
The process can be used whether the allegations to be investigated are behavioural and interpersonal (such as bullying or sexual harassment), operational (such as use of computer hardware or social media, company equipment and credit cards) or concern the ethics of business decisions (such as conflict of interest or breach of the organisation’s values).
Workplace Investigations is an easy-to-use, practical resource to help an organisation make sound decisions at all stages and in a wide range of contingencies arising from the investigation of allegations of workplace misconduct.
About the Authors at Worklogic
Rose Bryant-Smith is passionate about workplace behaviour and ethical leadership, as reflected in her public life to date. Rose is a founding owner and Director of Worklogic, and a professional company director. Starting out as a corporate lawyer with Allens Linklaters and Clayton Utz, Rose is a graduate of Melbourne University Law School, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship for Ethics and Leadership.
Grevis Beard’s international career has focused on practical and balanced ways to resolve workplace conflict. With grounded legal experience as both a solicitor and barrister, Grevis has over 10 years of significant peak body experience in Australia and the UK, regarding equal opportunity, complaint-handling and policy analysis. As well as being a founding owner and Director of Worklogic, Grevis is an experienced investigator and mediator.
Lisa Klug enjoys the challenges and rewards of workplace investigations, and also training others to apply a rigorous, fair and reliable process that leads to the right outcome for all involved. Before joining Worklogic, Lisa Klug was a litigation lawyer and manager with experience working with universities, government agencies, private law firms and local government. Lisa has a Masters of Laws (Workplace and Employment Law) Monash University and is a conflict management coach.