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Every organization, despite its size and scope of operations often faces internal and external conflicts that are detrimental to business growth. One of the most popular ways to resolve this is through a workplace investigation. The significance of an investigation is to reveal the cause of an issue and review available evidence to arrive at a fair, reasonable decision.
Workplace investigation can be handled internally by either a manager or the human resource department or externally by an investigation team. When conducted wrongly, a workplace investigation may lead to possible dismissal even if you are innocent of the alleged misconduct. It is therefore important to know what the appropriate actions to take while being investigated are.
Are you facing a workplace investigation? Do you have adequate information on how to act while being investigated? Keep reading as this article address the do’s and don’ts in a workplace investigation.
Why a workplace investigation may happen
An investigation is mainly initiated for problem-solving within the workplace. If an employee is allegedly accused of serious misconduct such as sexual harassment, bullying, or embezzlement, an investigation process begins to discover factual accounts of such events and give room for the aggrieved parties to give an account of their side of the story.
The do’s and don’ts in a workplace investigation
A workplace investigation is integral to maintaining harmony, productivity, and survival for any business and thus should be handled efficiently. As an employee, here are some do’s and don’ts involved in this process:
● Follow the due process: Workplace grievances are usually handled through investigation. Before you embark on major decisions such as considering constructive dismissal, you should speak to your manager or the human resource department. Make a formal complaint if you are being accused of allegedly committing serious misconduct at work. Do not wait till the case is exacerbated, proceed immediately to discuss your issue with key figures that can affect a resolution. This is not the right time to gossip and slander any person. Do the right thing, immediately.
● Consider procedural fairness: procedural fairness also called natural justice refers to a process of resolution that requires hearing from both parties before making a decision. Despite the severity of your alleged offense, you are entitled to procedural fairness while under investigation. Your employer should inform you either verbally or in writing about the allegation and provide ample opportunity for you to make a defense. This factor guides against partiality and makes dispute resolution process within the workplace fair.
● Document the process: An investigation into an allegation of serious misconduct is not to be trivialized. Seek to document the processes involved in resolution; it may come in handy if you are eventually unfairly terminated from work and required to apply for relief from unfair dismissal. Keep a record of all accounts, make journal entries or save them on your computer. Be very careful to get detailed information that will help you; if you ever need to go for a hearing.
● Read the employee handbook: in most cases, dispute resolution methods are discussed in the employee handbook. You should diligently research this document as it will guide you in deciding on how to tackle this issue. Usually, the process of resolution of grievances is highlighted including what to do in such a situation, who to talk to, and the consequences of being found guilty. Also, endeavor to speak to people within the same industry as they might have valuable resources to share.
● Review all pieces of evidence and witnesses: If you have a concrete piece of evidence that will advance your case, it is important to carefully review it, especially in serious cases such as bullying, sexual harassment, or underperformance. Speak to key witnesses and get their consent to include them in your defense. Keep all evidence safe and documented in a safe accessible place.
● Seek professional help: Workplace investigation can be harrowing and confusing for non-professionals. If you feel overwhelmed by the processes, you should seek workplace advisors like A Whole New Approach to help you assess your next move. They can also be instrumental if you wish to file Form F2 seeking relief from unfair dismissal.
Don’t do these:
● Give in to hasty actions: One of the detrimental moves to make in a workplace investigation is acting hastily with little thought to due process. This is not the time to throw in a resignation letter and abscond from work. This is not a time to wait around doing nothing. Be proactive, think critically, and take a step in the right direction.
● Destroy available evidence: Don’t destroy pieces of evidence that will prove you innocent in a fit of passion. Avoid taking the laws into your hands by either seeking retribution or threatening your accuser; even if they are lying. Destroying evidence of any sort only proves you are guilty and eager to hide the truth.
● Have ulterior motives: A workplace investigation process should not be a personal vendetta against a colleague or an employer you dislike. Do not go on a witch-hunting session; stick to whatever the issue is and find a way to settle it. If you have been bullied by senior staff; do not get distracted by bringing up trivia issues that will only deflate the purpose of investigation.
● Underperform at your assigned tasks: while being investigated at the workplace; stay true to your job. Do your task efficiently and maintain a collaborative energy with others. Underperforming at your task can be self-sabotaging and lead to a possible dismissal. A clear conscience fears no accusation. Trust in the resolution process, carry out your task effectively, and avoid acting like you are guilty as accused.
● Practice Dishonesty: an investigation is a fact-finding process aimed at discovering the truth. Do not give half-truths; it might come back to hunt you later. Be honest, answer all questions sincerely and back up your claims with solid evidence; if you gave any.
Within the workplace there are often situations that requires formal or informal investigation. This process is inevitable; especially when employers want to dig up factual accounts of a situation or look into a case of serious misconduct. The investigation must be duly conducted as arriving at the wrong decisions will affect employees’ confidence in conflict resolution within the workplace.
As an employee, the onus lies on you to discover the stages of a workplace investigation and the do’s and don’ts governing such a procedure. This will help you to determine if your employer is being unfair, harsh, or unreasonable with the final decision. One of the things to look out for in a workplace investigation is procedural fairness; your employer gives you a chance to present your side of the story and evidence.
If you are currently under investigation at the workplace and need help comprehending the process; A Whole New Approach (AWNA) is your safest bet. With years of experience as workplace advisors, we can help you evaluate your situation and guide you through the process. If you believe the investigation process in your workplace was flawed and are interested in lodging an application for unfair dismissal, we can represent you and get you due justice. Speak to a member of our team for a free consultation today, call 1300 766 700.