Workplace investigation policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for conducting internal investigations of alleged unlawful discrimination, bullying, harassment, and other breaches of company policies, or work health and safety (WHS) procedures, damages or misuse of company property, and stealing.

Austonia Trades P/L is committed to ensuring that all company-initiated investigations are conducted in a fair, impartial, thorough, thoughtful manner and in compliance with all applicable Australian state, federal, and local laws.

Austonia Trades P/L will promptly initiate an appropriate investigation into all possible violations of law and company policy. The Human Resources (HR) department will have primary responsibility for investigating complaints relating to employee misconduct. In certain situations, the HR department may instruct other Austonia Trades P/L personnel to gather information for the investigation. In such cases, the assigned investigator(s) will follow HR instructions relating to communications and evidence.


The confidentiality of an investigation must to be maximised. Only those employees will be informed who need to know an investigation is being conducted and participants are required to be private and discreet, and to only discuss their involvement with a support person or HR.

Investigative Process

The purpose of the investigation is to gather information and determine whether, on the balance of probabilities, the alleged incidents have actually occurred.

1. The investigation should begin as soon as practicable after the incident, or after an employer is notified of the incident.

2. The employee (complainant) is to submit a formal written statement of their complaint, clearly outlining the incident(s) as well as any relevant witnesses. The statement must be signed by the complainant as a true and accurate reflection of the events.

3. The investigation should be undertaken by a HR, supervisor, or manager that is impartial to the complaint. They must not be named by the complainant as being part of the issue. If no one is available within the business to conduct the investigation, a third party will be engaged.  

4. The investigator will create an investigation plan to discover the validity of the complaint. This will consist of an outline of the issue(s), a witness list to be interviewed, evidence that needs to be collected and analyzed, workplace policies or procedures, legal documents, and an idea of the investigation timeframe.

5. The investigator will inform the employee being investigated about the reasons behind the investigation, what will happen in the inquiry and possible next steps.

6. Depending on the complaint, there may be times HR needs to take immediate action to protect the accuser or the complainant. For example, they might need to temporarily suspend the complainant and the accused until the end of the investigation, adjust work rosters, or separate the employees involved in the complaint if they work closely together. 

7. Investigator will interview all parties involved, including the party accused of the misconduct. These interviews must be recorded in writing and signed by the employees to confirm they are factual. 

8. Investigator should access any other information available, such as security cameras within the workplace that can provide empirical evidence concerning the alleged incident. Photographs/videos will be taken of any injury or damage (if applicable).

9. Reports of certain incidents, such as severe sexual harassment, or theft, may also require police intervention.

10. Once all relevant evidence has been compiled, the employee that is the subject of the complaint will be given a final chance to respond. A meeting will be held and the employee is allowed to bring along a support person if they wish to do so. The complainant will also be given a chance to respond. Feedback will be provided to them from the initial round of interviews and particularly around any conflict in evidence or statements in the investigation thus far. Their responses to the allegations will be considered before a final decision is made as to whether the incident did indeed occur. 

11. Investigation report will be completed by the investigator providing all relevant and necessary information. The investigation report summarizes all the stages of the investigation process, interviews, and evidence, as well as the final findings and recommended action. Investigator only makes a recommendation based on the evidence results.

12. Once the report is complete, the investigator will share it with the relevant decision-maker and the parties affected. Employees may be given an “Executive Summary” with the findings but not detailed accounts of the witness statements. This might be done to protect the interests and privacy of parties involved in the investigation.

13. The decision-maker will decide what action needs to be taken based on the report findings and whether disciplinary action is necessary.

14. The decision-maker is responsible for communicating the outcomes in an appropriate way and ensuring that the documents relevant to the investigation are retained.

Resolution activities

Every situation is different so the suitability of resolution activities will also vary. Examples of potential resolution actions include:

  • Conciliation/mediation;
  • Counselling;
  • Formal apology;
  • Training;
  • Communication of policies to the workforce;
  • Disciplinary action – e.g., warning, dismissal, transfer, demotion;
  • Dismissal of the complaint if it is found to have no substance;
  • Increased supervision/monitoring;
  • Disciplinary action against the complainant if the complaint was vexatious or malicious; and
  • Applying an appeals process if parties are not satisfied with the investigation result.

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