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Are your workplace misconduct investigation reports doing more harm than good?

October 6, 2021

Workplace investigations of alleged misconduct can absorb a significant amount of resources and potentially contribute to industrial relations problems and staff morale issues.  A well-conducted, independent investigation of alleged workplace misconduct can greatly assist in effectively and fairly resolving a complaint and mitigating these organisational and employee impacts.

But a badly conducted or poorly documented investigation can only add to an organisation's problems, inviting scrutiny and challenges.

To avoid this, you need to ensure that all investigations reports are fit for purpose and demonstrate that the investigation was timely, complete, detailed and fair.

Without a clear process in place, this isn't easy to do. So, Centium's expert investigators have put together the following simple report evaluation checklist to help you identify the good from the not-so-good.

Ten criteria for evaluating investigation reports

1. The investigation achieved its purpose

The investigation achieved its purpose within the scope defined in the client-provided terms of reference and followed applicable policies and procedures.

2. The process was thorough

The investigator made all necessary enquiries, via a combination of document review and interviews.

3. Findings are evidence based

The findings of fact and the reasons for those findings were sound and evidence-based.

4. Valid reasoning for certain actions

The reasons the investigator did or did not pursue any lines of enquiry that came to light during the investigation were clearly articulated.

5. All parties were treated fairly

The investigation was fair to all parties, and the respondent was:

  • Advised in writing of the allegations against them and the particulars of those allegations
  • Given the opportunity to respond to the allegations in person and/or in writing
  • Given a fair and unbiased hearing

6. Findings are clear

The report concludes whether the allegations were substantiated or not substantiated and provides sufficient information to support such conclusions.

7. Mitigating circumstances are explained

Any mitigating circumstances associated with the findings are described and explained, which the delegated decision-maker can defer to when determining future action.

8. Any delays are explained

The reason for any delays that occurred during the investigation is set out, noting that such delays should have been brought to the client's attention during the investigation.

9. Supporting documents are included

All witness statements or interview transcripts and documentary evidence are attached to the report.

10. Structure & Quality Assurance 

A good quality investigation report:

  • Is logically structured, concise and grammatically correct
  • Includes a brief executive summary
  • Includes a brief narrative describing the circumstances that led to the investigation
  • Refers to the relevant sections of the organisation's code of conduct or policies that may have been breached
  • Is peer-reviewed
  • Includes a list of Attachments comprising all relevant documents, interview transcripts and other artefacts referred to in the report

Centium offers quality, independent and confidential investigation services

Centium provides investigation services to more than 100 organisations and has conducted more than 2,000 workplace and code of conduct investigations over the last two decades.

Our Ethical Conduct & Investigations specialists are committed to assisting our clients to achieve and maintain a robust governance framework and an ethical workplace culture. We can help organisations carry out investigations, review reports and improve complaint handling systems and processes.

To learn how we can assist your organisation, please contact Peter Mulhall, Director, Ethical Conduct & Investigations on peter.mulhall@centium.com.au or 0416 161 819 or browse Centium's Ethical Conduct & Investigations services.

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