Workplace Investigations: Best Practices for Employers in Dealing with Employee Misconduct and Complaints in New Zealand – Employee Rights/Labour Relations

Maintaining a healthy and productive workplace requires a commitment to effectively address misconduct and complaints. Workplace investigations play a key role in promoting a positive work environment, ensuring that all employees are treated fairly and mitigating legal risks for employers. In New Zealand, employers must follow specific regulations and procedures for investigations. This article discusses best practices for employers dealing with misconduct and complaints, and outlines key steps and considerations during the investigation process.


Tea Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 are key pieces of legislation that affect how employers should approach workplace investigations. In addition, compliance Privacy Act 2020 and other applicable laws is essential to protect the rights of employees during an investigation. Ensuring your business complies with the law is critical when conducting workplace investigations.

Establish clear investigation policies

The foundation for effective workplace investigations lies in a well-defined investigation policy. Employers should develop a comprehensive investigation policy that outlines procedures for dealing with misconduct and complaints. Some employers give details about this and Employment contract.

You should communicate this policy to all employees to ensure transparency and set expectations about the process. This could include a step-by-step process and whether certain actions are achieving misconduct or serious misconduct.

Immediate action

Employers should take immediate steps to investigate upon receipt of a complaint or discovery of possible misconduct. Timeliness is essential to prevent further harm, ensure a fair resolution and demonstrate a commitment to resolving workplace issues and personal grievances. Conducting any investigation without delay is essential because witnesses may forget some crucial aspects of the alleged incident.

Impartiality and independence

Maintaining impartiality is essential throughout the investigation process. Designate an investigator who is neutral, unbiased and has no personal interest in the outcome. In some cases, external investigators may be preferable to increase objectivity and credibility, although this will involve additional costs, but will present any allegations of bias.


Confidentiality is the cornerstone of a successful workplace investigation. Employers must emphasize the importance of keeping the details of the investigation confidential in order to protect the privacy of all parties involved. This addresses aspects of trust and confidence between employees and employers and minimizes the risk of retaliation from any party involved.

Communicate clearly

Transparent communication is essential at every stage of the investigation. Inform all relevant parties of the process, expected timelines, any reasons for delay and their roles in the investigation. Clear communication helps manage expectations and demonstrates a commitment to fair and thorough inquiry.

Gather relevant evidence

The investigator must gather all relevant evidence to make informed decisions. This includes interviewing witnesses, reviewing documents and obtaining other relevant information. Ensure that the evidence gathering process is thorough, objective and follows a systematic approach. It is also important that any oral interviews also have a written record that the witness can verify after the interview.

Interview techniques

Conducting effective interviews is a critical aspect of any workplace investigation. Interviewees should be allowed to provide their account of events in a safe and non-confrontational environment. Employers should ensure that investigators use proper interviewing techniques to obtain accurate information while respecting the rights of all parties involved.


Maintain detailed documentation during the investigation. This includes interview notes, copies of relevant documents and a record of the investigation process.

Well-documented investigations promote fair decision-making and serve as a valuable resource in cases of legal disputes. Ensure that all verbal conversations are recorded in writing.

Due process and natural justice

Adherence to the principles of natural justice is a must. Ensure that all parties involved have an opportunity to be heard, present evidence and respond to allegations.

A fair and transparent process not only upholds ethical standards, but also strengthens the defensible nature of the investigation results. It is important that you allow the employee to bring an appropriate witness if it helps them feel supported.

Closure and follow-up

Once the investigation is complete, communicate the results to the appropriate parties. If disciplinary action is warranted, ensure that it is commensurate with the seriousness of the misconduct and complies with company policies and procedures. In addition, put measures in place to prevent future occurrences and monitor the workplace for signs of retaliation or other problems.

Key things

Conducting workplace investigations requires a strategic and careful approach. Employers must familiarize themselves with the legal framework, establish clear policies and follow best practices to ensure fair and effective investigations. By prioritizing impartiality, confidentiality and transparent communication, employers can create a workplace culture that quickly addresses misconduct and complaints and minimizes legal risks. Investing time and resources in conducting thorough investigations ultimately contributes to a safer and more compliant work environment.


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