Has an incident occurred within your workplace that needs to be investigated? Below are 5 reasons why you should consider outsourcing your workplace investigation.
1. Independence and impartiality in a Workplace Investigation
One of the key principles of a workplace investigation is impartiality. Choosing an impartial investigator is one of the first things, and possibly one of the easiest things, to do to ensure your investigation is carried out in a just and procedurally fair manner.
By outsourcing your investigation to a third party, not only do you ensure that the investigator has no vested interested in the outcome of the investigation but you also ensure that others perceive the investigation to be impartial, which can be just as important.
2. Credibility and expertise to complete Workplace Investigations
Choosing EI Legal to conduct your investigation means the investigation will be performed by individuals who understand concepts essential to an effective investigation such as rules of evidence, conflict of interest and procedural fairness.
Furthermore, outsourcing to a third party demonstrates to all involved that you are taking the matter seriously and are committed to a just outcome.
3. Risk mitigation during a Workplace Investigation
An impartial investigation conducted by specialists in employment law will go a long way to protect the business from any claims arising from disciplinary action taken against employees.
Prior to initiating any disciplinary process against an employee for issues of misconduct, you must establish all relevant facts so that a decision can be made based on the evidence. If you dismiss or discipline an employee for misconduct without thoroughly investigating, you are exposed to the risk of claims being made against the business in the Fair Work Commission.
If it is found you unlawfully took adverse action against an employee or you are unable to show you afforded an employee procedural fairness, you may be ordered to pay significant compensation, penalties and/or to reinstate the employee.
Even if you have an internal resource who you consider has the requisite knowledge to conduct your workplace investigation, and can do so in an impartial manner (and be perceived as impartial), the question of time and priorities will still arise.
Investigations can be extremely time consuming, and very often need to be completed in a prompt manner. Internal resources will already have their own priorities which may impact the speed at which they can complete an investigation.
You should also consider how conducting an investigation would impact the internal resource, particularly in circumstances where they feel they are being ‘pitted’ against their colleagues. If the matter were to progress to the Fair Work Commission or to Court, they will likely be cross-examined with respect to the investigation, which would no doubt lead to additional stress.
5. Practical advice
Even when an investigation is conducted well, the process has the potential to negatively impact the parties involved.
Speaking with us prior to commencing an investigation will allow you to make an informed decision with respect to whether an investigation is necessary. If we do not consider that an investigation is necessary, we can suggest practical alternatives to resolve the matter.
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About EI Legal
EI Legal is a specialist firm of employment lawyers. We advise businesses of all shapes and sizes as well as employees and HR professionals. Please contact us if you require any assistance or wish to discuss whether an investigation is right for you and how we can help.
The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional legal advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact EI Legal for advice.