Workplace investigations are a crucial aspect of maintaining a fair and respectful work environment. When allegations of misconduct or policy violations arise, organisations must undertake a thorough investigation to gather evidence, determine the facts, and make informed decisions. One common question that often arises during this process is: “How long does a workplace investigation take?” In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the factors that influence the duration of a workplace investigation, providing insights into the timeline and considerations involved.


Factors Influencing the Duration of a Workplace Investigation:

  1. Complexity of the Case: The complexity of the allegations or incident being investigated plays a significant role in determining the investigation’s duration. Cases involving multiple parties, extensive evidence, or intricate legal or policy considerations may require more time to investigate thoroughly. Each situation is unique, and investigators must dedicate sufficient time to gather all relevant information.
  2. Cooperation and Availability of Parties Involved: The cooperation and availability of all parties involved can significantly impact the investigation’s timeline. It is essential for witnesses, complainants, and respondents to actively participate and provide timely responses during the process. Delays may occur if key individuals are absent, uncooperative, or require additional time to prepare their statements or gather evidence.
  3. Volume of Evidence: The amount of evidence to be reviewed can affect the investigation’s duration. Investigators must meticulously examine documents, emails, photographs, video footage, and any other relevant materials. Depending on the volume and complexity of the evidence, the investigation may require more time for careful analysis and consideration.
  4. External Expertise or Legal Involvement: In some cases, workplace investigations may require the involvement of external experts or legal professionals. For instance, complex financial matters may necessitate the expertise of forensic accountants, or legal advisors may be involved to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. The engagement of external parties can extend the duration of the investigation.
  5. Organisational Policy and Procedures: The specific policies and procedures of an organisation can influence the duration of a workplace investigation. Some organisations may have streamlined processes in place, enabling a more efficient investigation. However, others may have more extensive protocols, including multiple layers of review or approval, which can prolong the overall timeframe.
  6. Other Concurrent Investigations: In certain situations, there may be multiple ongoing investigations within an organisation. This could result in shared resources, such as investigators or legal personnel, which might delay progress. Balancing multiple investigations and ensuring fairness in each case can require additional time and careful management.


While it is challenging to provide a definitive answer to the question of how long a workplace investigation takes, understanding the factors that influence the duration is essential. Every workplace investigation is unique, and various factors come into play when determining the timeline. The complexity of the case, cooperation and availability of parties involved, volume of evidence, involvement of external experts or legal professionals, organisational policies, and concurrent investigations all contribute to the overall duration. Maintaining transparency, open communication, and a commitment to a fair and thorough process are vital to ensuring that workplace investigations are conducted effectively.

Remember, it is crucial for organisations to have comprehensive policies and procedures in place that outline the expected timeframe for investigations, while also allowing flexibility to account for unforeseen circumstances. By prioritising workplace investigations and dedicating adequate resources, organisations can uphold the principles of fairness, accountability, and a safe working environment for all employees.

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