How Best to Protect Employee Privacy During Workplace Investigations - PerformHR

A workplace investigation can be a challenging experience, and by its very nature often requires delving into sensitive matters with employees. Employees might hold valid concerns that the process could affect their reputation, their career or their standing with colleagues if the matter isn’t handled correctly. Of course, employees have a legal right to have their personal information kept private. So how can you ensure that the privacy of each involved employee can be protected and respected throughout a workplace investigation?

Setting the expectation for confidentiality

Every workplace investigation should undergo the correct process. The first step is to set expectations as every workplace investigation commences, by instructing all parties that the investigation is to be treated confidentially within the organisation. This should be done through the documentation provided to the parties and at the beginning of the recorded interview. The only exceptions might include where the employee wishes to speak with their counsellor or therapist ,to consult with their industrial advocate / legal adviser or support person.

Understand the limits when asking questions

Working to understand the truth of a matter can require a certain amount of tactful questioning, but there is always a line where investigation-related matters can cross over into personal matters. It’s vital to understand the limit of what you can and should not ask in the course of workplace investigations, so employees never need fear their personal information being leaked or shared.

Protect the privacy of all parties when following up

Whether there’s been gossip circulating or you intend to make wider shifts to workplace policies, you may well at some stage address staff as a whole in the wake of a workplace investigation. It’s important to remember that when addressing the wider team that you speak in a general nature and keep any identifying features out of the conversation.

Consider using professional services for workplace investigations

Using a third party provider for workplace investigations, such as PerformHR, can bring a sense of neutrality and impartiality to the process that might not be possible within a team. We ensure all interviews and details are recorded and reported confidentially, and your organisation will have the full choice of whether all or part of the final report should be shared with other parties.

Workplace investigations and confidentiality should go hand in hand. PerformHR can provide one-off or ongoing support for delicate workplace matters, providing expert services to conduct your workplace investigation accurately and lawfully with detailed reporting. Importantly, we also offer an optional report that addresses the root cause of issues that may have led to the complaint, which can help you optimise your workplace policies and procedures. To get started, contact our local team in your area today.

“employees have a legal right to have their personal information kept private”

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