Private workplace investigators may be required to have a licence

A recent case of the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority has determined that workplace investigators fall within the definition of a ‘Private Investigator’.

The definition is contained in the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010.

This has a couple of implications for individuals or firms that are in the business of conducting workplace investigations, and firms looking to engage the service of an independent investigator in their workplace.

An employer may decide to involve an external workplace investigator where the allegation or issue is sensitive, complex, or raises questions of credibility and requires a level of independence and impartiality that may be difficult to attain internally. 

Investigations 

Individuals or firms that are in the business of conducting workplace investigations should either be licensed in accordance with the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010 or be regulated under another Act.

There are exceptions to this. Those conducting in-house workplace investigations do not need a license. And the licensing requirements do not apply to occupations that are already regulated through a practising certificate, licence, permit or Authority, for example, lawyers or those seeking information for the Crown.

Businesses that are seeking the service of independent investigators should make sure that they are engaging suitably qualified, and licensed individuals. Ensuring the workplace investigator has the appropriate licence or accreditation provides business assurance that they have appropriate skills and access to formal channels for making complaints.

For a person to be granted a licence by the Licensing Authority, they need to show they have the relevant training or skills to do the role. There are also formal channels to file a complaint against a private investigator, which gives the business that engaged the investigator an additional layer of protection.

For more information about the requirements for a Private Investigator to become licensed and to apply for a licence, visit the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority website (external link)

If you are a business and want to check whether a workplace investigator has a Private Investigator licence, you can check the Public Register (external link)

Or if the workplace investigator is a lawyer, you can check if they have a practicing certificate on the New Zealand Law Society website (external link)