Does a detailed investigation have to be conducted for every formal complaint submitted to HR or management?

Continuing our series of short videos on the subject of workplace investigations. It’s a subject that’s often misunderstood and even mishandled by leaders, managers and HR personnel. Today’s question...

Does a detailed investigation have to be conducted for every formal complaint submitted to HR or management?

Some situations might require a formal investigation, where complainants, respondents and witnesses are interviewed separately and a formal report is prepared (with findings and recommendations), while others may only need an informal investigation, where interviews are conducted informally and informal contemporaneous notes are taken.

A formal investigation should only be conducted where the allegations made, if substantiated would mean that an employee has breached an organisational policy or the terms of their contract of employment (where the terms of the contract may be implicit or explicit), or the employee has committed actions which would be considered unlawful . Examples include such actions and behaviours as bullying, sexual harassment, victimisation, fraud, theft, threats of or actual verbal or physical aggression, violence, physical safety breaches, not following all reasonable directions, inappropriate social media posting.

Allegations requiring informal investigation would be such things as interpersonal conflict, low level – non threatening swearing, first time incidents of inappropriate comments/jokes or innocent invasion of personal space.

We’ve compiled a resource of Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Investigations for managers and human resource personnel. The resource includes a video and pdf transcript of Catherine Gillespie, Managing Director of Workplace Conflict Resolution, answering 29 commonly asked questions. To access your copy of the video and transcript click here.

Does a detailed investigation have to be conducted for every formal complaint submitted to HR or management?

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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.