Know Your Rights: Workplace Investigations in AustraliaAugust 18, 2021
In any workplace, certain issues concerning worker’s compensation, bullying, salary disputes, and termination can sometimes lead to legal action if the issue wasn’t resolved properly. One such issue is when someone becomes terminated as a result of a biased investigation in the workplace. If you happen to be a victim of this or you know someone else who is a victim, then hiring an employment lawyer in Perth should be the best course of action. As an employee, it’s important that you know what rights you have during any workplace investigations.
What Is Workplace Investigation?
A workplace investigation refers to a process in which an employer sets out to inspect an alleged employee for misconduct. Such an investigation can happen for a number of reasons, but whatever that is, if an employee is found guilty, the result would be termination. For example, the investigation may concern allegations of theft, fraud, bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, breaches of company policy or safety procedures, among others. Basically, any matter deemed serious enough to warrant disciplinary action could be cause for a workplace investigation.
Generally, an investigation is carried out through fact-finding exercises. This consists of interviews, reviewing of records, and viewing evidentiary materials, such as CCTV footage. Companies conduct the investigation through their Human Resources department, or sometimes even through an external agency.
Is It Really Necessary to Have Workplace Investigations?
A workplace investigation is necessary for several reasons, including establishing zero-tolerance against misconduct and ensuring that workplace rules and regulations are enforced and upheld by all organisation members. One of the most important reasons why investigations are crucial is to maintain mutual trust and confidence among workers of different positions in a particular company. Otherwise, chaos would ensue, and no employee will ever feel safe and protected by their company.
What Rights Can One Exercise During the Event of a Workplace Investigation?
As an employee, it is your responsibility to know what rights you have in a workplace or investigation to avoid falling victim to unfair treatment by the company as a result of the investigation. Some of the employee rights you can exercise include:
- Receiving a detailed written report from the employer on the complaint made against you before a discussion.
- Receiving a detailed brief on all the potential negative factors that an employer may use to determine your involvement.
- Getting sufficient time to respond to the complaint and brief in writing.
- Having your response considered before getting to a final decision.
- Bringing an acquaintance for support during interview meetings.
- Having the investigation conducted by an unbiased authority or someone unrelated to the complaint.
- Handing over the final decision making to an impartial authority or someone unrelated to the complaint.
What Can an Employee Do If They Haven’t Been Treated Fairly During an Investigation?
If the workplace investigation is still ongoing, you can take action in the Fair Work Commission to prevent unjust disciplinary action or termination. However, if the investigation has already concluded and you have returned to work but in an unfavourable manner, it is also possible to pursue a General Protections Application. If you were dismissed from employment, then an Unfair Dismissal Application may be in order. Whatever the case may be, seeking help from a lawyer should be your best option.
In any workplace investigation, it is imperative that all parties involved observe procedural fairness and impartiality at all times. Only by thoroughly and properly executing the fact-finding procedure can employers and employees avoid any issues with the investigation.
Need legal advice regarding workplace problems? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Workclaims Australia is here to provide legal services for problems encountered by Australian workers in the workplace. Contact our legal team today if you’re a victim of bullying or wrongful termination in WA, Australia.