Home' HR Monthly : August 2018 Contents August 2018 HRM magazine 43
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he revelations of the royal commission
into misconduct in the banking,
superannuation and financial services
industry would lead many to believe that Royal
Commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne has only
begun to scratch the surface.
Consequently, mistrust of managers by their
employees and the wider public is on the rise.
This is highlighted by the transgressions of
so-called independent investigators hired to
look into the banks. There are a number of ways
that independent investigations can go awry,
and employers and HR managers must tread
carefully when conducting their own.
Transparency is key in any type of investigation,
whether it is conducted internally or
independently. Law yers have lost much of their
moral authority in society, just as the Royal
Commission into Institutional Responses to
Child Sexual Abuse demonstrated the loss
of moral authority and integrity of some
churches. H R managers should be careful to
be transparent when ordering an independent
investigation relating to workplace conduct in
order to maintain integrity.
When law firm Clayton Utz conducted its
independent review of AMP, it was suggested
that it had colluded to alter the findings of the
report to protect certain members of the board
and high-level employees.
The main purpose of an independent
investigation is that the process and the findings
are viewed to be objective and fair. A ny third
party conducting the investigation should have
no vested interest in the outcome.
Employers should ensu re that if a discovery
in court occurs in subsequent litigation, or a
freedom of information request is made clear
by the terms of engagement of an investigation,
that the engagement is not pointed to a
Investigators must also ensure that they are seen
to be fair and just to those under investigation.
An employer should warrant that the person
under investigation is well-informed about the
evidence under which the allegation is made.
It often happens that the evidence supporting
an investigation is kept secret, which means
the person under investigation has little chance
to properly respond to or deny the allegations.
Such investigations might be called witch hunts.
The banking royal commision contains lessons about
conducting independent investigations.
BY ALAN MCDONALD, MANAGING DIRECTOR,
If an employer or investigator doesn’t reveal
what allegations are being made about the
accused, as well as what evidence there is,
and then proceeds to terminate the accused’s
employment, it may be exposing itself to unfair
dismissal liability down the track.
Keep within a budget
It was reported that Melbou rne City Council
has paid at least $660,000 for its investigation
into alleged misconduct by former lord mayor
Robert Doyle in an effort to appear independent
in the public eye. This is a huge sum that
demonstrates that the City of Melbou rne had
significant unaddressed issues.
Planning and managing the scope of an
investigation is essential in keeping costs down.
By planning the investigation and ascertaining
the resources that are required it is simpler to
see where costs can be cut and kept down. It
is important to not only have an initial budget
but to keep monitoring costs throughout the
investigation so that there isn’t a risk of a
large blowout. •••
should be careful
to be transparent
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