Workplace Investigations

The what, why, and how

Grievances, conflict or inappropriate conduct in the workplace.

It is important that all parties including the complainant, witnesses and respondent are treated professionally, without bias and feel heard during the investigation process in order to minimise further disruption and workplace stress.

A workplace investigation typically consists of a process of fact-finding with the goal of ascertaining whether or not a situation has occurred. It's typical for a workplace investigation to require that specific criteria for the case be established and that a formal investigation report be created in order to make findings on a particular situation to allow a reasonable decision-making process on the next steps to occur.

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What is the


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An investigator is appointed to collect evidence and make findings of fact, or on the balance of probabilities in relation to a specific situation. The investigator makes findings as to whether, in their opinion, the evidence is, on the balance of probabilities, capable of substantiating an allegation or an event occurring.
Leanne from the HR Dynamics team

The HR Dynamics process generally involves the following methodology:

Review the company grievance and any policies that are relevant to the grievance
Meet with all parties to get an understanding of the grievance and versions of events
Interview any nominated witnesses or witnesses that the investigator identifies as being able to provide relevant information that will help establish the facts or provide relevant context to the matter
Liaise with the relevant Union as required
Provide a report on findings relating to the investigated situation to allow the Employer to make reasonable decisions on rectification and or consequences going forward
Dale and Leanne having a meeting from HR Dynamics

When making findings, a decision maker must apply the civil standard of proof – the ‘balance of probabilities’ and not the criminal standard of proof, which is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. This means that for an allegation to be substantiated, the evidence must establish that it is more probable than not that the alleged conduct or event occurred. The strength of evidence necessary to establish an allegation on the balance of probabilities may vary according to the:

Relevance of the evidence to the allegations.
Seriousness of the allegations.
Inherent likelihood - or improbability - of a particular thing or event occurring.
Gravity of the consequences flowing from a particular finding.

This is known as the “Briginshaw test” (Briginshaw v Briginshaw (1938) 60 CLR 336). Source: QLD Govt

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After an investigation and findings are made, HR Dynamics may make recommendations on the next courses of action - what options are recommended to resolve the matter; mediation, coaching/training, clarification of acceptable workplace behaviours, and performance management, could be included.

Could a work performance or conduct matter be resolved without an investigation?

Depending on the circumstances, options outside an investigation could include:

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