Employers are sometimes hesitant at the potential costs of hiring a third-party investigator, but sometimes the failure to do so can prove significantly more expensive.
Occupational health and safety legislation generally states that employers must conduct investigations into incidents that are “appropriate” given the circumstances. In reality this means that smaller, isolated incidents will likely not need a full third-party investigation, but rather a simple confidential conversation with both parties to sort out what had happened and potentially impose discipline.
However, these sorts of investigations become significantly more complicated either for more serious accusations (violence, sexual assault, etc.), or if there is a smaller workplace where the accused and the employer have a close, long-lasting relationship. The crucial element to investigations is that they are impartial, and obviously an investigator cannot be expected to be impartial if they are closely tied to an alleged offender.
While lawyers can be investigators, investigators do not need to be lawyers, and we regularly bring in third-party investigators to assist our clients. That allows us to take a full overview of all of the evidence gathered during the investigation, and helps us to look at the bigger picture when advising on your next steps.