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Workplace investigations should be fair, thorough and confidential

If you receive a complaint about sexual harassment, discrimination or serious misconduct, you will need to conduct a formal workplace investigation.

The aim of the investigation is to establish exactly what has taken place and who is involved – before you take any further action.

It is important that a workplace investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and confidential way– otherwise you risk defending a subsequent unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission.

What should trigger a formal workplace investigation?

Any complaint of discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying or victimisation should be treated extremely seriously, and trigger an immediate formal workplace investigation.

In addition, any alleged serious misconduct that could result in the termination of an employee should also also trigger a workplace investigation.

What is serious misconduct?

According to the Fair Work Act, serious misconduct is conduct that is wilful or deliberate and that is inconsistent with the continuation of the employment contract.

It includes:

  • theft
  • fraud
  • assault
  • intoxication at work
  • refusal to carry out lawful and reasonable instructions

Serious misconduct is also conduct that causes serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of a person, or to the reputation, viability or profitability of your business.

If you dismiss a worker without notice (summary dismissal) for serious misconduct you can still end up losing a claim of unfair dismissal, because the Fair Work Commission can decide that the dismissal was harsh or disproportionate to the offence committed.

That’s why it’s important to seek expert legal advice if you are dealing with an allegation of serious misconduct.

How we can help

At Supportah, we have extensive experience conducting independent workplace investigations on behalf of employers.

We know how to

  • conduct all necessary interviews
  • collect all relevant evidence, including emails, video footage and text messages
  • provide you with a detailed report of our findings

We will then recommend the appropriate course of action for you to take.

Allowing our team to handle a workplace investigation will reduce the possibility of having to defend a subsequent unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission.

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LAST UPDATED: April 2022

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