Key Learnings #1
PEEL HR was recently invited to attend the ICAC Probity Forum in Sydney. It was an informative session and so we thought we would share what we learnt. The first of the key learnings focuses on, ‘The Trends in Corruption Reporting and In-House Investigation Practices’.
Manager of Assessments, Andrew Garcia, shared data collected over 5 years leading to 2017, which highlighted that 20% of all complaints of alleged corruption received by ICAC were borne out of complaints regarding the HR & Administration function within organisations. Specifically, the top 4 most commonly alleged corrupt conduct related:
- Improper use of records or information;
- Personal interest breaches; and
- Improper use or acquisition of funds or resources.
Interestingly 40% of all complaints relating to the HR & Administration functions were reported by the Principal Officers of the organisation, namely, CEO’s or General Managers. Whilst the HR & Administration function is regarded by ICAC as a ‘high risk’ area for complaints, it is worth noting that the threshold requiring mandatory reporting is low. All that is required is that the Principal Officer suspects on reasonable grounds that the matter concerns or may concern corrupt conduct.
What was interesting to note was that whilst ICAC themselves received a large number of complaints, 11,000 in NSW last year alone, they only investigated approximately 2% of alleged complaints. A key response from ICAC on receipt of complaints is actually a deferral back to the organisation to conduct an investigation into the matter themselves and keep ICAC informed of the progress. As such, they highlighted it is of critical importance for organisations to ensure effective in-house investigative practices.
From a review of in-house investigations which had been conducted and reported to them, ICAC noted a number of deficiencies which they shared as key areas for organisations to be mindful of when embarking on both planning and conducting an in-house investigation.
With respect to planning, they highlighted that organisations must:
- Have a clear purpose for the investigation;
- Ensure the scope is appropriate;
- Have defined roles and responsibilities for the investigation parties – including who is responsible for managing confidentiality and expectations; and
- Having whistle-blower protections in place and managed.
When it comes to conducting the investigation, ICAC raised organisations must:
- Know when to advise the respondent of allegations against them, have a clear order of interviews and establish appropriate evidence gathering practices. For example, never look into live email inboxes;
- Particularise the allegations;
- Ensure any new allegations which arise during the course of an investigation are reported to the relevant parties;
- Ensure the independence of the Investigator;
- Ensure quality analysis of the evidence; and
- Value completing an investigation, even if an employee resigns during the investigative process, consideration should be given to completing the investigation to ensure the identification of any systemic issues.
PEEL HR is currently offering a 1.5 day Workplace Investigations program, which supports organisations in conducting effective internal investigations. For more information on this session give PEEL HR a call on 1300 665 144 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you enjoyed the first of our key learning…. stay tuned for key learnings more next week.