Can A Workplace Investigate You Without You Knowing?

February 21, 2024    Employment Lawyers
Can A Workplace Investigate You Without You Knowing?

Workplace investigations can be integral to maintaining standards of safety, integrity and harmony within a company. It is important to determine if there have been any company law or conduct breaches. It can help iron out or spot issues before they arise and help protect the interests of the employees and the organisation.


However, it is important to maintain ethical conduct during any workplace investigation to avoid violating the personal integrity or privacy of employees or the organisation’s information. That’s why employing workplace investigation lawyers is an integral part of maintaining ethical standards and protecting the interest of everyone involved.


What is workplace investigation?


A workplace investigation is the process of inspection, scrutiny and analysis involved in finding evidence of misconduct, unethical behaviour or breach of company laws in a workplace. Workplace investigations can be complicated and are generally reserved for complex scenarios that involve smoking out instances of unethical conduct or noncompliance to company rules. This, in turn, protects the company and other employees from any legal action taken against them for not identifying the source of the misconduct.


Generally, for a serious workplace investigation to occur, the claims must be widespread and serious and affect a large number of vulnerable people associated with the company.


What are the steps involved in workplace investigation?


Workplace investigations in Perth, Australia, occur through workplace investigations services from Fair Works Inspectors authorised to investigate cases of noncompliance or breach of conduct in a company under the Fair Work Act.


1. Pre-Investigation

Workplace investigations are serious, and before embarking on employing the help of investigators, it is important to establish that all other means to resolve the dispute within the company privately have been exhausted. Once the need for a workplace investigation has been decided, it is important to act immediately to quell any claims of unfairness or lethargy in problem-solving.


2. Evidence Collection

After you’ve involved a workplace investigator, they are responsible for conducting the examination and preparing reports of their findings. They collect documents, audits, records or testaments from all parties involved in the potential misconduct. Investigators can ask the company to produce information under a “notice to produce”, which authorises them to look into company documents and records. Investigators can also freely explore the company’s premises and engage with employees and HR.


3. Contacting witnesses

All investigations involve potential witnesses. The investigators can issue notices for people or the company they deem to be related to the case at hand to testify, produce documents, and sit for an investigative interview to answer questions. Matters can even be escalated to the Administrative Office tribunal in case the following contraventions are suspected:

  • Underpayment of wages
  • Coercion and bullying of employees
  • Discrimination in the workplace
  • Cashbacks, deductions or spending money that belongs to employees
  • Violating National Employment Standards
  • Unfair layoffs or dismissal


4. Evaluation

After sufficient evidence has been collected, it is important to evaluate if there have been company law violations and find out what can be done to fix the issue. The investigators must explain their findings and report their investigation to the people concerned in detail for full transparency.


5. Declaring outcome

The outcome is arrived upon by evaluating the evidence and its compliance with the company, state, and territory laws, such as employment laws in Perth, the seriousness of the action, and the people involved.


Outcomes can include no action if there isn’t enough supportive evidence, the business is no longer in action, or the concerned employees cannot be located. Alternatively, actions can include notices of various kinds such as infringement, compliance, enforceable undertakings, small claims, etc.


Are employees informed if they are being investigated?


During the investigation process, it is crucial to inform employees being investigated of the actions being taken unless it poses a major risk of tampering with witnesses or evidence. Under no circumstances should employees be suspended as a disciplinary action at the time of investigation.


Suppose there is a need to suspend an employee while the investigation is underway for unavoidable or exceptional reasons. In that case, they must be informed beforehand and given a reason. If you have experienced being suspended unfairly during an investigation, contacting employment law lawyers to represent your case is important.


Summing Up


Workplace investigations are serious and complex and must be done ethically to protect the rights and integrity of the employees and the organisation. Contact experienced employment lawyers in Perth WA team to guide you and protect your rights during the process.

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