An employee complaint about a workplace issue should be treated seriously.  A prompt, thorough and impartial investigation can provide employers with the information they need to quickly resolve a matter.  It can also deal with an employer’s legal obligation to investigate complaints in an effective, fair manner – including taking any necessary corrective action.

The unfortunate reality of modern workplace relations is that at some stage, most employers will need to conduct a workplace investigation.  Poorly conducted workplace investigations can lead to the original issue remaining unresolved as well as allegations of procedural fairness not being provided and decisions being overturned by reviewing tribunals such as the Fair Work Commission.

O’Connell’s employment lawyer-investigators  are workplace specialists who conduct independent, professional investigations into all types of workplace complaints.  Bringing together both legal expertise and a realistic HR perspective, our independent investigations ensure the employer’s compliance with legal requirements while also enhancing employee relations by demonstrating the employer’s commitment to a workplace free of harassment, discrimination and other inequities (whether actual or perceived).

O’Connell’s investigators have extensive experience in conducting workplace investigations into issues such as:

  • Bullying and harassment
  • Inappropriate employee conduct
  • Discrimination and diversity issues
  • Grievance allegations
  • Executive + senior staff improprieties
  • Workplace disputes
  • Whistleblower complaints + protected disclosures

The advtages of retaining O’Connell to conduct your workplace investigations includes the following benefits:

  • We use a proven methodology to ensure procedural fairness throughout the investigative process
  • Investigations are conducted promptly and not delayed due to internal commitments
  • Unbiased investigation by an external, impartial third-party
  • Increased objectivity and credibility of the process and outcomes
  • Assurances that procedural fairness has been afforded to all parties
  • The O’Connell Workplace Relations team are fully qualified and experienced workplace investigators who have between them conducted hundreds of investigations
  • We deliver a detailed and fully justified report that will support your internal processes and stand up to review by external tribunals if necessary.
  • Facilitates a prompt finalisation of matters which allows staff to quickly resume their normal work
  • Avoids disruption to internal resources otherwise needed for an investigation
  • Allows your HR staff to not become involved in the investigative process, and more able to add value to post investigation actions without claims of conflict of interest
  • Proceeds with minimal disruption to your workplace – interviews are normally conducted at your business or a neutral venue
  • Normally less expensive than using your existing solicitors and/or law firm

InvestigationsShould an internally conducted workplace investigation be challenged by any parties involved, O’Connell can conduct an independent review of your company’s internal investigation process and make recommendations, if relevant, to ensure that your internal staff are trained to industry best practice standards and fully equipped to conduct your internal investigations.

To view a range of case studies on workplace investigations undertaken by O’Connell Workplace Relations please click here.


Workplace mediation is a proven process where an experienced and independent mediator uses a number of techniques designed to allow disputing parties to come to an amicable settlement of their grievances or differences.  Mediation is especially useful in resolving disputes between staff that have a long history and/or have been unable to be settled by more traditional means.  Mediation can be conducted either at your business, or at a neutral venue and full report report of the outcomes and Settlement Agreement will be provided to management at the conclusion of the mediation process.

O’Connell has nationally accredited mediators who can assist in working with staff to find actionable, practical and sustainable solutions to workplace conflict.  Our services can be utilised if it is considered that mediation may be a more effective way to resolve a workplace dispute.

To view a range of case studies on mediations undertaken by O’Connell please click here.


While the mediation process relies on an experienced and independent mediator to facilitate viable solutions to issues from the participating parties, workplace conciliation is a slightly more formal process where both parties allow the conciliator to take a more active role in the process.  This more active role generally involves the conciliator listening to the submissions of both parties and then coming up with a proposed terms of settlement for consideration and agreement by the parties.

O’Connell also offer conciliation services should the need arise.



Customised training programs

Appropriate training of staff can often prevent many instances of misconduct, poor performance or unsafe work.  Ensuring that staff at all levels are kept up-to-date with relevant and understandable information on your own internal policies and procedures or with the requirements of Australian workplace relations legislation and regulators will raise awareness levels and facilitate improved levels of competence.

O’Connell briefing and training sessions are delivered by qualified lawyers with adult education experience and expert knowledge of the practical and legal aspects of major workplace issues.  We specialise in customising sessions to your exact needs – referring to your own policies and processes.

Briefing and training sessions are designed to cover necessary knowledge or skills of an issue and then allows participants to retain this new knowledge or skills through group activities, case studies and simulated exercises.

Our most popular briefing and training sessions includes:

  • Avoiding bullying and harassment behaviours in the workplace
  • Equal employment and workplace diversity
  • Conducting effective workplace investigations
  • Ensuring procedural fairness in workplace investigations
  • Dealing with conflict between staff – for supervisors and managers
  • Ethics and compliance
  • Effective conflict resolution
  • Conducting effective performance reviews

To view a range of case studies on briefings and training that O’Connell has undertaken please click here.

Policy reviews

Having up-to-date, well written employee policies and procedures are a critical part of preventing deliberate or inadvertent misconduct by staff.  Demonstrating the presence of such policies and procedures also form the foundation of an employer’s legal defense by documenting the proper management of personnel problems.

O’Connell’s workplace experts can review your existing policies and manuals and rewrite them to ensure they contain effective, legally sufficient policy elements in a manner that meet your organisation’s unique cultural needs.

O’Connell can assist you with policies and procedures including:

  • Bullying and harassment policies
  • Ethical conduct policies
  • Social media policies and procedures
  • Workplace investigations policies and procedures
  • Staff discipline policies and procedures


peopleFor all of your workplace relations and employment law related legal needs, the employer lawyer-specialists at O’Connell, with extensive experience across key sectors are able to assist you.

Workplace and employment law is an ever-expanding area, but some of the services it encompasses are:

  • Work Health and Safety
    • Risk assessments
    • Systems
    • Systems monitoring and maintenance
    • Outscourcing
    • Training and briefings
    • Information update service
    • On-site coaching
    • Contractor OHS obligations
    • Fatigue management plans
    • Visitation processes for sales staff
    • Positive performance systems
    • Emergency evacuation practice sessions
  • Essential employment documentation
    • Contracts and letters of appointment
    • Confidentiality clauses
    • Post employment restraint clauses
    • Staff handbooks and manuals
    • OHS/WHS issues
  • Terminating staff fairly and effectively
    • Redundancies
    • Termination of an employee due to misconduct
    • Termination of an employee for poor performance
    • Termination of an employee following prolonged periods of absence
    • Defence of an unfair or unlawful termination claim
    • Deeds of Release