Should my organisation commission a formal, external investigation?

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Your organisation has a positive legal obligation to ensure workplace safety. If you have received a complaint (formal or otherwise), or you become aware of concerns relating to inappropriate workplace conduct, you must consider how to respond.  

Firstly, via our helpful checklist, consider the severity and type of risk that the issue presents or may present; and 

Then take expert legal advice on your options.  

The checklist will help you characterise the complaint and consider how serious this issue is or could be for your organisation and its people. It may become clear that a formal, independent investigation conducted by a legally trained expert is required because the allegations are very serious, related to safety, apply to someone very senior, or the reputational risks for your organisation are significant. 

If an appropriate expert runs a procedurally fair investigation, determines whether the allegations are made out and if so whether your policies and procedures have been breached, then the actions you take next will be defensible. 

The more questions you answer “yes” to, below, the greater the potential risks are to your organisation if you don’t commission an expert, independent investigator to consider and decide whether the allegations are made out, and if so whether policies and procedures have been breached.

Think it through, then get advice and decide how to act and whether an external investigation is the safest approach for your organisation in these circumstances.