MHC: Two-thirds of employers conducted workplace investigations in last year

MHC: Two-thirds of employers conducted workplace investigations in last year

Melanie Crowley

Almost two-thirds of Irish workplaces have had to conduct an investigation in the last year, according to a survey by Mason Hayes & Curran.

The business law firm surveyed 280 employers from both the public and private sectors during a recent employment law webinar which provided practical tips along with best practice advice to navigate the legal complexities of investigating grievances, disciplinaries or bullying and harassment issues at work.

Among the 65 per cent of workplaces who said they conducted an investigation, most were handled internally, with more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents stating they did not enlist external help.

The investigations primarily focused on disciplinary issues (44 per cent), followed by grievances (32 per cent). However, complaints regarding bullying (nine per cent), harassment (eight per cent) and protected disclosures (seven per cent) also featured, albeit in smaller percentages.

Melanie Crowley, partner and head of the employment and benefits team at Mason Hayes & Curran, said: “The high percentage of internal investigations demonstrates the critical need for robust internal processes and protocols.

“It also underscores the importance of continuous education and training to effectively navigate the sensitive and often complex nature of workplace investigations in a thorough and impartial manner.”

The survey also highlighted the relatively low use of mediation, with only 38 per cent engaging in this resolution option at any stage of an investigation.

Ronnie Neville, employment and benefits partner, said: “This finding suggests the potential underuse of what can be an effective, collaborative, and often less adversarial way of resolving workplace conflicts.

“Employers could benefit from a greater awareness of mediation as a tool to repair and maintain a positive workplace environment as well as to avoid what can be a costly process.

“Particularly when a formal process has concluded, engaging in some form of remedial mediation can be very helpful in facilitating the resumption of normal working relationships.”

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