Help! Can I conduct my workplace investigation internally?

by Contributor19 Apr 2018

By Michelle Dawson | Partner, Madgwicks Lawyers

Undertaking an investigation in relation to a workplace complaint can be an overwhelming task. So overwhelming, that often managers will outsource the task at significant cost to a business. Whilst it is regularly appropriate for an external investigation to be conducted, often an internal investigation will be enough – and internal investigations are generally much more efficient and much more cost-effective for a business.  

So in what circumstances can you conduct an internal investigation and avoid bringing in an external investigator? Follow our handy guide below outlining some of the situations that would usually allow for an internal investigation to occur: 

1.    The complaint (or allegation) does not involve a senior employee, director or similar and the complaint would be able to be handled objectively by an internal investigator. 
2.    The complaint is not serious or complex and/or the risk of litigation is not high.  
3.    The evidence is not likely to be highly technical or forensic. 
4.    Where it would be beneficial for the investigator to have some internal knowledge/understanding of the workings of the business or of a particular role or occupation. 

In the right situations as outlined above and with the correct knowledge and skills, conducting your own internal investigation can be a cost-effective and efficient way to manage complaints as well a great way to instill employee confidence in your ability to effectively and fairly conduct an investigation and settle upon a speedy and fair resolution. 

The key to being able to internally (and more efficiently and cost-effectively) conduct a workplace complaint investigation is to ensure that appropriate persons within the business are appropriately skilled to undertake an internal investigation.  Absent the proper skills and their application, an internal investigation can lead to disastrous business outcomes and legal risk – but upskilling people to properly conduct an internal workplace complaint investigation is easy to do – and represents a relatively small investment, particularly by reference to the efficiencies and cost savings which these new skills are likely to create for the business.

If you want to learn more about conducting an internal investigation, Madgwicks’ Masterclass in investigating workplace complaints will give practical guidance and a “start-to-finish” guide on conducting internal investigations.  

Find out more information here

This article should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to a specific set of circumstances.  If you would like to know more or to obtain specific legal advice please contact a member of Madgwicks’ Workplace Relations team.