From one GM with poor HR to another...

Our second dispute with Bankstown City Council (whoops, now the secrets out, it’ll be another contempt allegation against us) about the inadequacy of their investigations policy and processes came before the Industrial Relations Commission on 10 February.  Initially filed out of frustration because GM Matthew Stewart kept ignoring our requests to renegotiate their procedures, our fundamental problem is that Bankstown doesn’t accept that employees should be able to see and understand any findings that are made against them.
Investigations are conducted by external investigators who produce a report with findings and explanations but where the employee who may be adversely affected, whether they are found guilty or not guilty of the allegations, is not allowed to see it.

This is worse if the employee is found guilty, because they don’t get to examine the evidence or the reasoning but it is a problem too for employees found not guilty because the Council’s management/HR people are able to verbal the employee, develop their own conclusions based on their understanding or misunderstanding of the report to all say whatever they like because no one can check. The way Bankstown handles it means that being found innocent may not be enough.

GM Matthew Stewart defends the process by saying it is conducted ”in accordance with Council policy and procedures” even though neither the policy nor the procedure makes any mention at all about denying access to reports. It doesn’t mention reports at all. Come on Matthew, you have to do better than this.
The three unions are involved and equally concerned that Bankstown does not respect procedural fairness, nor the requirement in the Award to “properly conduct” an investigation which is what procedural fairness is all about. And it is such a notorious principle these days that employees are entitled to be shown anything that may be seen as adverse to their employment, how can they exclude the findings in a report which will be kept on file forever?
All investigations have to be based upon procedural fairness or they will be unfair, flawed and overthrown in any dispute proceedings in the IRC. At Bankstown, they are not.

At the conclusion of conciliation, the Commission encouraged the unions to each write to the Council identifying their concerns with the current arrangements and that he was “certain” that the Council wouldn’t ignore those requests.

Identical letters have gone from the three unions (ours went on 12 February) and yet, there is still no reply. We hope the certainty of the Commission was not unfounded.

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