IR Simplified: Workplace InvestigationsWhat do you know about workplace investigations, and could you do one?

Before you break out the magnifying glass, pipe, and deerstalker’s cap, there are a few things you need to know.

To begin with, workplace investigations are something that should be taken seriously. Though that doesn’t mean that every investigation will be an inquisition.

By the same token, it also doesn’t mean everyone can be a ‘workplace investigator’.

Why Investigate?

Why workplace investigations are performed is the most important part of the process.

They are done to:

  • Minimise future risk to the business
  • Prevent/reduce the chances of a re-occurrence
  • Identify gaps in policy/procedure

Minimise future risk.
By allowing something to continue, whether it be an unsafe work practice, or behaviour, the risk to a business is increased.
If this risk is an unsafe practice, the result could be the death of an employee or visitor. This may then lead to criminal charges against company officials.

If the risk is an employee not following policy or legislation, the risk that a business could be exposed to is just as great. Workplace bulling is an example of one type of behaviour that if alleged, could result in a workplace investigation.

Prevent/reduce re-occurrence
Some incidents are are impossible to predict or prevent. Though if they do happen, things need to be done to stop them happening again.

Ways to prevent/reduce their occurance, could be:

  • Termination of the employee
  • Retraining of current employees
  • Review and rewrite company documents/policy
  • Change of workplace practices

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Identify gaps in policy/procdure
The investigation, or it’s conclusion, may show where gaps in policy/procedure can be found.
For example, most companies now have a social media policy. Whereas a few years ago, such a policy may not have been thought of.

What To Investigate?

Keeping this article as easy to understand as possible, the rest of it will only refer to ‘simple’ matters. This includes things like policy breaches, minor misconduct, minor bullying allegations.

Allegations that are severe, breach legislation, or pose a risk to health and safety should always be investigated.

Examples of allegations that should be investigated are:

  • Minor employee fraud
  • Employee misconduct
  • Harassment
  • Workplace bullying
  • Inappropriate behaviour

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