When Do I Need To Conduct A Workplace Investigation?

November 10, 2021    Employmentlawyers
When Do I Need To Conduct A Workplace Investigation?

When you are in charge of running an organisation, it will be your duty to make sure all employees are held responsible for the actions they commit in the office. You should also check if they can raise complaints or voice negative opinions in a safe forum. It means that a workplace investigation may be needed for staff misconduct on occasions.

Because you need to deal with personal feelings and sensitive issues, the whole process may seem challenging. That is why it will be a better idea to consult workplace investigation lawyers. This blog discusses the most crucial information that you should know while considering a workplace investigation.

Understand The Necessity Of An Investigation

First, you must understand why a workplace investigation is necessary.

As an employer, it will be your responsibility to provide your employees with a safe and healthy work environment. For example, if someone experiences workplace bullying or harassment, you will have to look into the matter and take steps to prevent it from happening further. If you fail to do that, you will become civilly liable. If any of your employees make any complaints or allegations, you must conduct fair investigations.

What Help Can Your Human Resources Team Offer To You?

If your business organisation has a dedicated human resources team or an HR officer, you can consider involving them in the investigation because it offers adequate help.

Your human resources team can take the following steps, thereby making significant contributions to the ongoing investigation.

  • They can keep open channels to communicate with the respondent and complainant (as long as the involved parties keep the confidential information private).
  • They can provide a clear outline and timeline of the processes.
  • The HR team can make sure that the staff clearly knows their rights to involve support persons.
  • It is the HR team that can help in maintaining mutually respectful contact between the involved parties and witnesses.

How Different Is Fact-Finding From The Formal Investigation?

Whenever any employee raises a complaint, the first step the employer should take is fact-finding. At this stage of the initial inquiry, the third party interviews the accused party and the accuser to know exactly what had happened. This step is taken to figure out the severity of the case to conduct a formal investigation.

On the other hand, the process of formal investigation goes much beyond. Here, the investigator has to collect adequate evidence and information, interview witnesses, draft formal statements, and eventually prepare a detailed report. Preparing the report will require a deep analysis of the evidence and subsequent consideration by important decision-makers. At this stage, the investigators also have to consider potential consequences.

Why Is Procedural Fairness Necessary?

A significant aspect of any workplace investigation is to make sure that all involved parties receive procedural fairness. If you fail to do it, any decision will face heavy criticism, and the organisation may be exposed to legal liability.

Employment lawyers can help you understand the major elements of procedural fairness, which include the following.

  • Supplying sufficient written information about the allegations and the consequences the employee must face if they have been involved in the alleged behaviour
  • Giving the employee a reasonable time to respond to the complaints
  • Permitting a support person to be physically present during interviews
  • Sending the interviewee a notice in advance so that they can hire someone of their choice
  • Make sure that the investigator and the person who makes the final decision is objective and unbiased
  • Making sure that the decisions are strongly based on proper evidence

What Are The Steps Involved In Carrying Out A Workplace Investigation?

The major steps involved in a workplace investigation will include:


There should be a well-developed plan before the investigation starts. Here you have to consider potential conflicts of interest. Several steps must be followed.

  • The investigator must become familiar with the possible conseqUse the tips and best practices in thisuences and make sure all parties are interviewed.
  • Then, they must prepare a list of interview questions that must be asked to each witness.
  • Relevant documents like employment contracts, important policies and procedures, performance reviews, incident reports, and other documents should be gathered and reviewed.
  • The investigator should also notify all the involved parties of their workplace investigation rights and obligations.


Steps involved in the interview stage will consist of the following.

  • All witnesses must be given prior notice.
  • Based on circumstances, formal interviews must be conducted sensitively and objectively.
  • It is necessary to gain as much evidence as possible.

Analysis Of The Evidence

At this stage, all the gathered evidence must be thoroughly assessed concerning consistency, reliability, and credibility. Based on the findings, the investigator prepares a report, which includes the report on the behaviour that has or has not taken place. The report should also mention whether the behaviour was unreasonable or unlawful or a breach of company policy.

Providing A Solution

At this stage, the employers can make necessary amendments to business policies and introduce training and counselling session’s improvements.

When Should You Seek Help?

If the investigation is not done properly, your company may face serious consequences. The eventual decisions you make can be challenged in the courts, affecting the reputation and employee morale.

On some occasions, it may not be a good decision to carry out an internal investigation. To make sure the process is unbiased and fair, there may be a need for an external investigation. These situations may occur when:

  • Serious allegations are given, and civil or criminal litigation is possible.
  • Senior employees are alleged.
  • A major conflict of interest exists.
  • A legal privilege is necessary to meet circumstances.
  • Internal resources are inadequate. It will be a more serious issue if multiple parties or complicated matters are involved.

Who Can Help You?

There are several law consultancies that can provide you with contacts of top-rated workplace investigation lawyers in Perth. They can offer you full investigation services and staff training associated with conducting investigations in workplaces.

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