Workplace investigations

Impartial and independent employment investigations

We have significant experience in all aspects of workplace investigations – from structuring and leading investigations, to advising organisations through the investigative process, to acting for senior employees who are the subject of an investigation.

Workplace investigations, by their nature, can be delicate as the people involved will often know each other, may have established relationships going back several years, and will usually have to continue working together – including while the investigation is in progress.

You can rely on our team to appreciate what makes a good workplace investigation, including timeliness, efficiency, support for all parties, stakeholder engagement and succinct reports.

Vonda Engels has successfully completed the Association of Workplace Investigators Training Institute is a certificate holder. She has also presented a webinar and training session on apparent bias in workplace investigations to the New Zealand Circle members of the American Association of Workplace Investigators.

From our experience, we believe that a good investigation process has the following features:

  • It is well planned and structured from the outset, with clear terms of reference and allegations that are properly framed, so that clear conclusions are reached that will be useful to the employer and the other parties involved.
  • Robust and structured interviewing that is tailored to the individual subject matter and witness. We appreciate that witnesses must feel heard and supported throughout the process and that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to interview style. We also appreciate that witnesses want to speak with an investigator who is well prepared and considered.
  • Balanced confidentiality. There are often competing interests in respect to confidentiality and we balance those interests to ensure sensitive subject matter is confidential where required, protected disclosure policies are adhered with and that all parties feel supported.
  • The ability to gather the evidence needed, and weigh the evidence and witness credibility appropriately and in a considered way.
  • Succinct and well-reasoned report writing that can be relied upon by the decision maker without exposing them to unnecessary criticism of the investigation. Our experience on all sides of an investigation means we are particularly well placed to craft a report that will meet the needs of all parties.
  • Speed. Investigations must be thorough but they must also be timely. As a large law firm with a national team, we have the resources and capacity to conduct investigations at pace and at short notice.
  • Conducting independent investigations for businesses in a broad range of sectors including insurance, manufacturing, dairy, banking, viticulture and legal.
  • Structuring independent investigation processes and advising businesses throughout the investigation in a broad range of sectors including health (public and private), manufacturing, horticulture, iwi organisations, housing, finance, government and legal.
  • Representing employees who have been the subject of independent investigation processes in a range of sectors including government, sport, banking and infrastructure.
  • Acted as part of the independent investigation team engaged by the Board of a leading New Zealand business to conduct an inquiry into a significant incident with international implications.
  • Our independent investigation experience has involved allegations on the following topics: sexual harassment, bullying, harassment, organisational culture, fraud, regulatory breaches, stress/workload and negligence.