It is important to recognise that the conduct of a criminal investigation into workplace conduct does not obviate the requirement to deal with the issues fairly and promptly.
Although it is important to cooperate with the police, employers should try to avoid prejudicing their position by delaying their own investigation and disciplinary process until the criminal investigation has been completed. Otherwise, there is a risk that evidence may be lost or the delay may be taken as an indication that the conduct is not as serious, or is condoned by the employer.
This risk can be avoided by suspending the employee while the police investigation takes place. However, given criminal investigations can take a long time to complete (and may not ultimately result in proceedings being commenced), employers should be aware of the danger a lengthy suspension may have on making a dismissal unfair due to the stress placed upon the employee.
If, as in the Wong case, it is not possible to suspend the employee without prejudicing a related criminal investigation, employers should ensure that employees are dismissed with notice rather than summarily to avoid rendering an otherwise fair dismissal unfair.