Handling Workplace Investigations and Incidents Legally in Singapore
When an employee makes an informal or formal complaint, the employer should take immediate steps to stop the alleged conflict, protect involved parties and begin investigations. Under many laws, employers are legally obligated to investigate complaints (harassment, discrimination, retaliation, safety and ethical) in a timely manner. In addition, any appropriate corrective action is required to be taken by the employer to ensure illegal actions and behaviours cease immediately. Responsiveness to a complaint and an investigation will not only yield the best information and evidence, but it will also enhance both the investigator’s and the employer’s credibility. Investigations can help the organization identify and resolve internal problems before they become widespread. Given that every complaint has the potential to become a lawsuit, employers should investigate every case in a manner in which it can be presented to a court of law, if necessary. As potentially disruptive as investigations can be, they must be prompt, thorough and effective to ensure everyone’s protection. Proper steps should be taken as soon as the employer receives a verbal or written complaint.
10 Common Investigation Mistakes
- Failing to plan.
- Ignoring complaints.
- Delaying investigations.
- Losing objectivity.
- Being distracted during interviews.
- Using overly aggressive interview tactics.
- Not conducting a thorough investigation.
- Failing to reach a conclusion.
- Failing to create a written report.
- Failing to follow up with those involved.
- Understanding termination provisions in the Employment Act
- Express and implied terms in the employment contract relating to termination
- Familiarisation with other legislation relevant to the termination of the employer-employee relationship
2) The complaint
- Ensuring there is a process in force with regard to the institution of complaints
- To whom must the complaint be lodged and in what manner must it be lodged?
- How should the terms of the complaint be framed and communicated to the employee in question?
3) The investigation
- Who should conduct the investigation?
- How can it be done such that it is regarded as fair and objective?
- Retention of accurate records for the hearing
- What is the best manner of taking evidence from both sides
- Is there a need for an inquiry?
4) The inquiry and conclusion
- How should the hearing take place including who should be allowed to speak and how should evidence be taken?
- Who is allowed to be present during the inquiry?
- Who should make the decision?
- Can a lawyer be involved if the employee requests his presence?
- Is there a right to suspend or demote the employee instead of terminating his employment?
- What is the level of proof that is required in a hearing before an employee can be termination
5) What happens subsequent to the inquiry
- Appeals against the decision
Who Should Attend?
HR Professionals business owners, executives and other professionals involved in HR work including senior managers and Senior Management
TRAINER: MIRZA KHALEEL NAMAZIE, ADVOCATE & SOLICITOR (SINGAPORE)
Khaleel was admitted as an Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1994. He is also a member of the Law Society of England & Wales. He read for a Bachelor’s Degree in Law at the National University of Singapore and for a Master’s Degree in Computer and Communications Law at Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London, the component subjects which were Information Technology Law, Intellectual Property Law, Telecommunications Law, Electronic Banking Law and Internet Law.
Apart from his experience in advising local and international clients in private practice on a variety of commercial, corporate and litigation matters, Khaleel worked in the Asia Pacific Legal Department of Hewlett-Packard Singapore Pte Ltd as a Commercial Contracts Manager with special responsibility for the Asia Emerging Countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam and with Singapore Telecommunications Limited as Senior Legal Counsel as part of the SingTel Global Offices team. During that time, he was also responsible for negotiating the legal aspects of a number of high value telecommunications and IT agreements with a significant number of Fortune 500 companies.