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Conducting Workplace Investigations

Review and investigation processes are often complex and almost always overlaid with a layer of emotion that needs to be acknowledged and handled sensitively.

HBA Consulting understands these issues and, in addition to the legal, employment and policy related requirements of such processes, has an extensive record of delivering quality outcomes that are accepted by all key stakeholders.

Critical to this acceptance are a number of essential elements, including:

  • Demonstrable experience in the design and conduct of reviews and investigations;
  • An approach to review and investigation processes that addresses any actual and perceived conflict of interest issues through careful adherence to independence matters;
  • A strong focus on procedural fairness, equity and natural justice principles;
  • Broad and deep understanding of the applicable legal, employment and policy frameworks and requirements;
  • Integrity and honesty of approach; and
  • Thorough, logical and complete reporting outcomes that meet high quality standards.

HBA Consulting has an extensive, demonstrable record of providing investigatory and review services that are underpinned by these elements. Our proven track record of service delivery across a wide range of public and private sector organisations confirms our capabilities in this regard.

Our highly experienced team, have considerable knowledge and experience of working with the public and private sectors, across a wide range of complex and sensitive investigatory assignments.

HBA has developed a robust investigation/review process, which we use as the basis for our assignments. We use this standard process as a solid, proven and professional basis for early discussions with clients, and will tailor and adjust the process, where required, to meet the particular needs and circumstances of each assignment.

This proven methodology has enabled us to undertake and complete a large number of reviews and investigations that have, to date, resulted in final reports that have all been accepted by our clients.

HBA Consulting implements a strong internal quality assurance and peer review process for all assignments. This process is currently overseen by Mr Ken Titheradge (Workplace Investigations QA adviser). In support of the effectiveness of our quality assurance processes, to date no HBA review or investigation report has been:

  • rejected by a client;
  • rejected in Court.

Also, the regular re-engagement by clients of HBA to undertake subsequent review and investigative processes further supports the rigour of our internal quality assurance processes.

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Conducting Workplace Reviews

Many Enterprise Agreements and employment contracts have within them terms and conditions relating to an employees right to have decisions that affect them at work reviewed. In a practical sense, this can often mean that the review needs to be conducted by an independent external person, as typically the employee has been engaging with the internal decision maker and/or the Human Resources team on the matters that they want reviewed, prior to the review process being commenced by the employee.

All of the team at HBA Consulting have decades of practical experience as managers and executives in the public and private sectors, in both HR and industrial relations. This means that they understand the inherent sensitivities that workplace review processes bring with them, and are skilled at designing and conducting a process that effectively identifies and takes into account these sensitivities while conforming with the policies and procedures that apply to each organisation.

When undertaking a workplace review, we pay careful attention to key elements such as:

  • Taking the time to identify and understand all of the requisite employer guidance materials before beginning the design and implementation of the review process,
  • Discussing and confirming the context of the issue with the employer and employee,
  • Communicating with the employer and employee throughout the process to manage expectations,
  • Developing an evidence based report that provides a clear basis for the findings, conclusions and any required recommendations.

Independent Review Panels

HBA Consulting is on a number of workplace investigation and review panels across the ACT and Federal public sectors. One of the services required under these panels is for the provision of an independent member of a review panel. These panels are established under Agency employment frameworks and are designed to independently review a range of employment related decisions at the request of an employee.

Typically such panels are made up of an external representative, a union representative and an employer representative, with the external person also performing the role of Chair/Convenor and report writer. Because all of our highly experienced consultants have decades of senior level HR and industrial relations experience, they are able to structure and guide the process efficiently and effectively in accordance with the relevant organisational policies and procedures.

Public Interest Disclosures

Undertaking a Public Interest Disclosure (PID) investigation can be diifciult for an employer, especially if they have limited proven capability within the organisation to undertake such work, or they are dealing with their first ever PID. HBA Consulting has undertaken a large number of PID investigations over the past 5 years. These investigations have been conducted in accordance with both the ACT and Commonwealth PID legislation.

We also provide advice and assistance with the development and review of the organisational policies and procedures that underpin how an employer manages and conducts a PID investigation within their organisation. We know from this work that there are some employers, particularly Federal Government agencies, who established their policies and procedures to support the initial implementation of the Commonwealth legislation, but have not reviewed these to establish possible areas for improvement.

Our highly experienced consultants conduct processes that are compliant with the legislation, pay careful attention to the required timeframes for PID matters and that result in an evidence based report for consideration and action by the appropriate delegate.

Workplace Complaint Management

Workplace complaints aren’t something that every manager or supervisor is required to deal with on a regular basis. So, when a compliant is made by an employee, often the manager or supervisor isn’t quite sure about what to do.

At these times, it is important that:

  • Managers and supervisors have had access to targeted training on how to manage complaints – before they get their first one
  • The HR area is clear on the complaints management process – including industrial, WH&S and HR policy and procedural requirements and obligations – so that they can properly advise and assist the manager with the process
  • The organisation has regularly reviewed and updated its policies and procedures for workplace complaints management
  • The current guidance for managers and employees in relation to workplace complaints management is accessible when needed – usually via an Intranet portal or HR Manual.

From our experience, workplace complaints become difficult to manage when:

  • They are not acted on promptly by the organisation when they are made
  • They are not analysed carefully and impartially before a decision is made in relation to them
  • The outcomes of any assessment and investigation of a workplace complaint are not appropriately communicated back to those involved, including the complainant and those who have been alleged to have caused the issue being complained about.

Our experienced consultants are able to assist organisations to efficiently and effectively manage workplace complaints by:

  • Developing or reviewing workplace complaint policies and procedures to ensure they reflect contemporary better practice and industrial and WH&S obligations
  • Providing training to HR teams and/or line supervisors and managers on how to effectively address complaints from employees when they arise
  • Undertaking independent workplace investigations into complaints when the matters are very complex or there are concerns about perceived or actual conflicts of interest should the matter be managed internally to the organisation.

For more information contact Gary Champion Principal HBA Consulting

gary.champion@hbaconsulting.com.au or 02 62474490

Canberra

29 Somerville,
St SPENCE ACT 2615
PH : 02 6247 4490

Sydney

Level 32, 101 Miller St,
North Sydney NSW
PH: 02 8019 7164

Melbourne

Level 2 Riverside Quay,
1 Southbank Boulevard,
Southbank VIC,
PH: 03 9982 4544

Brisbane

Level 19, 10 Eagle Street,
Brisbane QLD
PH: 07 3303 0807