Workplace Investigations – Getting it Right!

There has been plenty of high profile cases over the past 12-18 months, where employees are raising formal grievances on workplace issues or the behaviour of colleagues at work related events.

We have seen an increase in workplace grievances which can present significant challenges for organisations, especially for a small to medium size who may not have a dedicated HR function in place, or with limited expertise in conducting workplace investigations. Claims raised formally or informally under the company grievance procedure or claims under the equality and dignity in the workplace procedures, harassment, or bullying procedures, all require comprehensive management from the outset.

There is considerable case law in this area which can be a good reference for employees and employers, highlighting the importance of due process and fair procedure. The expectation is that an employer must ensure an investigation is conducted in a fair, reasonable, and transparent manner, providing all parties with an opportunity to put forward their views and respond to claims made during the investigation.

Here is a sample of some of the cases that have gone before the WRC and Labour Court:

“ The Employment Appeals Tribunal has awarded £7,000 to a former gardener under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, pointing that even where the facts are clear, an employer has a duty to follow due process before dismissing an employee….

A hotel reservation agency has been ordered to pay €5,000 to a former employee after the Equality Tribunal concluded that the firm discriminated against her on the grounds of her gender in the manner in which it handled her allegations of sexual harassment by a co-worker.

The Labour Court has proposed the use of an external investigator to assess a case in which a worker complained that his employer did not carry out a proper investigation of his bullying claimant.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has ruled that the leading Irish betting chain, Boylesports, should pay €7,000 in compensation to one of its former employees after it concluded that he was unfairly dismissed following a two day hearing. “

Very often these cases that end up in front of WRC or Labour Court result in the employer being told that that their process was flawed or that the company procedure was not followed objectivity, fairly or consistently.

It can be very beneficial to engage the services of an external party to conduct an investigation, ensuring it is independent and unbiased, and providing the employer with an opportunity to be removed from the details of the investigation and thus in a position to objectively review the investigators report and make an informed decision as to the appropriate course of action.

Voltedge Management has considerable experience of conducting workplace investigations, whether it is in an advisory capacity, or providing an independent investigator or supporting an informal process.

For a confidential discussion on related matter, please contact our Operations Manager Ingrid O’Sullivan at or call the office on 01 525 2914 to speak to one of our senior consultants.