The AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals is a subgroup of AHRI, supporting the ongoing education to early career HR professionals.
Last Tuesday (23rd July) we had another successful event for the Brisbane Young Professionals Group where we looked investigations. We were lucky enough to have Mills Oakley Lawyers sponsor the event and facilitate the event too! Employment law related events are always popular. People are always eager to learn more about this area, and we attract people from all levels of their career.
Despite most the YP’s in that room having Bachelor Degrees in HR / Business / Law or a related field, employment relations is still the area that generates a lot of conversation. Maybe it’s because whichever way you look at it there is always something you haven’t considered. Just when you think you know it all, something changes in the legislation and you get a weird question.
Having studied at a post-graduate level I can tell you nothing I learned about conducting workplace investigations came from my university studies. Maybe my ability to write reports in my sleep does, but that about it. Yet, it’s one of the areas that people really get stumped on, or a the very least lack confidence in! Even though it’s mostly following a process and having a sense of enquiry, determining an outcome at the end can be nerve-wracking – what if I haven’t considered everything? Even more challenging if you are a solo practitioner.
I have been lucky enough to work in large HR teams where I wasn’t the sole HR person. That means I could learn from those more experienced than me. But sometimes people don’t have that luxury, so who do you learn from? Who do you seek support from when you need it, even if it’s just an idea to bounce off? There are an alarming amount of cases where unfair dismissal has been ruled due to an investigation being inadequate, whether it be on a technicality or because it blatantly disregarding procedural fairness.
I was particularly interested in this case summarised here which talked about a bullying complaint which was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. As a result the employee made a complaint that the employer had not done it’s due diligence to resolve the matter. Particularly interesting in those cases of he / said, she / said. Further curious was the point that if you do decide that you don’t have the evidence to rule either way on an investigation you need to consider the support you will offer as a result. If the employee rejects this support make a note, notes, notes notes! (your can check it all out in the linkedin article).
Even if you are the worlds best investigator at the end of the day you still need to make a decision. So with that in mind how up to date are you on your case law? Where do you get your case law information from? Are you reading the FW judgements? Do you have a subscription? Before you make a decision I would recommend asking yourself how clued in you are into what’s happening at the moment. Which is why these sessions are so good! Everything you need, explained to you, free to ask questions.
I’ve had a couple of requests for some strategy HR sessions which will be a nice change of pace. I am always on the hunt for great speakers in Brisbane, particularly an experienced Talent Management Specialist, Change Manager or HR Business Partner. If you know anyone be sure to send them my way!
AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute)