Sexual Harassment Investigation in the Melbourne Workplace
Jolasers Investigations Have Over 16 Years Experience Conducting Complex Workplace Sexual Harassment Investigations in Melbourne.
Many companies assign their HR representative to lead a Melbourne workplace sexual harassment investigation. This works occasionally but is generally regarded as a poor strategy.
A HR investigation of workplace sexual harassment is the best example of why third parties are needed. To be successful, an investigation must be independent and impartial, with no connections to either party.
Because the external investigator is coming in without any previous involvement, and initially are not as familiar with the situation as employees, and can ask follow-up queries that might otherwise be missed.
An external investigator is the best way to ensure that this occurs. A qualified investigator can ask tough questions with minimum negative reactions, thus getting the whole story.
Call 0418 101 164 to discuss your workplace investigation situation.
Melbourne Sexual Harassment Investigations
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Melbourne Sexual Harassment Investigations
Having a productive and safe workplace is the ultimate goal of any manager or supervisor. If you’re in a management position, it’s your duty to create an environment that’s free of harassment and other negative behavior. Think of it as an investment in the future of your company. A healthy work environment will boost employee morale, increase productivity and reduce potential legal fees from lawsuits. Given that sexual harassment has been a hot topic lately, we wanted to help you stay informed about best practices for preventing it in your own work environment. An investigation into potential sexual harassment can be scary for all parties involved; after all, we are talking about sensitive topics that involve personal boundaries being crossed at work. However, if you keep these things in mind and remain fair and objective throughout, it won’t feel so scary after all.
The first decision you are going to have to make is to determine whether you are going to investigate the allegation/s inhouse or seek a professional investigator to undertake a thorough unbiased investigation.
Some of the issues you face undertaking an inhouse investigation are:
- Do your staff have the expertise to undertake a complex investigation?
- Is it possible that one of the parties could allege your staff are unbiased or impartial?
- Will the recommendations made by your staff stand up to legal scrutiny?
Don’t risk it – contact us to discuss how we can assist you in resolving this issue in a timely and fair manner.
Know Your Company’s Position On Harassment
For starters, you have to know what your company’s position on sexual harassment is. Is it something that is taken seriously and dealt with immediately, or is it something that’s more of a grey area and not really discussed? These are the things that you should know first. Another important thing to note is whether employees are allowed to bring a representative to any meetings where harassment is being discussed. This is often overlooked, but it can make a world of difference in how the conversation goes.
Find Out What Constitutes Sexual Harassment
The next thing you want to do is find out exactly what constitutes sexual harassment. Examples can include unwelcome sexual advances, repeated sexual comments, unwanted touching and sexual jokes that make others feel uncomfortable. The best course of action when you’re not sure is to ask. It’s also helpful to know that harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature. It can also involve any type of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that is based on gender, race, religion, etc.
Ask Witnesses Questions
If you’re conducting an investigation into a sexual harassment claim, you’ll want to ask witnesses questions. You can do this in written form or in person; whatever works best for the situation. When you’re asking questions, try to keep the focus on the facts and not on judgement. You don’t want to give off any indication that you’re trying to prove anything — you just want to get all of the details you can so that you can make an informed decision.
Ask The Parties Questions
When you’re in the middle of an investigation, you’ll also want to ask each party involved questions. Again, make sure to keep the focus on the facts and not on judgement. The best thing to do is have a list of questions written out before you meet with the parties. This will keep you from becoming flustered and help you stay focused on the issue at hand. Another tip to keep in mind is to have a witness present during the meetings with the parties; this way, you’ll have someone to corroborate your notes and give an unbiased account of what was said during the meeting.
Find Out If There Are Patterns Of Behaviour
Another way to determine if sexual harassment is occurring in your workplace is to see if there are any patterns of behaviour. For example, if the same party is always involved in one-on-one meetings with the person who made the complaint, this can be a red flag. You also want to look out for any patterns of behaviour between the parties involved. If one person is always initiating the inappropriate behaviour, it’s more likely that they are the one who should be held responsible.
Determine If It Is An Ongoing Problem
Finally, you want to determine if the sexual harassment is an ongoing problem. If so, you have to ask yourself why this is happening and what you can do to put an end to it. You can start by bringing both parties together for a mediation session where you (the manager) are present to facilitate.
Keep in mind that each situation is unique and will require a unique approach. Try to keep an open mind and use judgement when making your final decision. If you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it out.
If you require an independent company to undertake a professional investigation of your workplace incident, complete our contact form and we will contact you to discuss the process.
We service all areas of NSW and Victoria
Frequently Asked Questions.
An investigation can be a stressful time for both employee and employer. Employees might have concerns about their performance, feel like they’re being unfairly scrutinized, or worry about the potential implications of the investigation on their career trajectory. For employers, investigations are often taxing and time-consuming processes that demand confidentiality and sensitive handling. In order to help tackle the challenges of workplace investigations more efficiently, we’ve prepared this FAQ guide with answers to some of the most common questions employers may have when initiating an investigation in the workplace.
What is a workplace investigation?
Business investigations are designed to seek out facts, identify problems, and find solutions that have be triggered by a specific event or complaint such as a bullying allegation or sexual harassment allegation. They often follow a set process that allows all parties to be treated fairly and ensures that organizational policies are followed.
Why is an investigation necessary?
While it’s possible to address issues informally, an investigation often provides more structure and ensures that all employees’ concerns are addressed fairly. It also provides the foundation for any disciplinary action that results from the allegations.
Companies engage external investigators to eliminate any perceived bias or favouritism towards one or more of the participants in the investigation.
How long does a workplace investigation typically take?
While there is no hard and fast rule for how long investigations should last, the duration of most investigations falls between two and four weeks. Investigations that are prompted by a specific event, such as an employee’s allegation of bullying or harassment, will likely be shorter, due to the desire of all parties to finalise the mater. Investigations that explore multiple issues and problems that have been festering for a long period are likely to last longer. Investigations that include a wide range of employees may be longer still if Investigators aim to include all employees’ input in the process.
Who can participate in the investigation?
An Investigator will seek to interview all persons that are involved in the subject of the investigation which may include witnesses to a particular event. Generally the more relevant people interviewed, the more detailed the final report will be.
All persons interviewed in an investigation are entitled to have a support person with them to provide moral support as the circumstances discussed can often be difficult for the person being interviewed to re-live.
What are the different types of workplace investigations?
Investigations are often broken up into four major categories – bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and misconduct. They all follow the same basic structure. The person/s who have made the allegations against a work colleague/s will be interviewed first to determine the exact nature of the allegations. Then any witnesses identified will be interviewed and then finally the person/s who the allegations were made against will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations. From there the Investigator will prepare his findings and present to the appropriate person in the company.
Can employees be required to participate in investigations?
Employees can be required to participate in investigations if their participation is directly related to the issues being investigated. Employees may be required to produce relevant documentation, provide a written statement, or be interviewed by the investigator. When deciding if employees should be required to participate, employers should consider the nature of the investigation and the expected value of employees’ input.
Are there any requirements for informing employees about investigations?
Employers should inform employees whenever they become aware of an issue that necessitates an investigation. Informing employees provides transparency, helps build trust and confidence in the organization, and may reduce the chances of retaliation against the employees who are being investigated. Employers may be able to avoid the need for an investigation by promptly addressing employee concerns. In many cases, employers can address issues informally by talking directly with employees to seek clarification and explore potential solutions.
Should employers comply with employee requests during an investigation?
Employers are generally expected to comply with reasonable requests from employees during an investigation, as long as those requests do not interfere with the investigation. For example some employees are uncomfortable being interviewed in the general vicinity of their work colleagues and will request the interview take place offsite or somewhere private that other employees are not aware of their participation.
Employers should be careful not to give the impression that they are providing special treatment to certain employees. If employers feel that a request from an employee would interfere with an investigation, they should explain why and consider providing an alternative solution.
Can disciplinary action be taken as a result of an investigation?
Employers may take disciplinary action against employees as a result of an investigation, but they must first ensure that the investigation is thorough and complete. Disciplinary actions are separate from an investigation and should be undertaken after the investigation concludes. Disciplinary actions can vary from a minor formal warning letter being placed on an employees personnel file to really serious disciplinary action such as termination or a referral of matters to police.
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