HARRASSMENT, BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION IN THE WORKPLACE

More reasons why Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination are not good business

This year there are two additional reasons why your business should ensure that steps have been taken to prevent harassment, bullying and discrimination at your workplace.  In addition to the costs impacting on the business through productivity, morale and turnover to name a few, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Fair Work Australia have new legislation putting pressure on organisations to make it a priority.

 

Workplace Gender Equality Agency – New Gender Reporting

The ‘Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012’ which replaced the ‘Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999’, is focused on promoting and improving gender equality.  More information on the Act can be found on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website at www.wgea.gov.au.

 

This act requires “relevant employers”, that is non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to report annually.  This report is due between 1 April and 31 May.  There are six Gender Equality Indicators that will be required to be reported on, the sixth indicator is noted as “any other matters specified by the Minister in a legislative instrument” and for the 2013/2014 year this GEI 6 is “sex-based harassment and discrimination”, matters that will be required to be reported are outlined in the ‘Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) instrument 2013 (No.1)[1] are as follows:

6.1 The existence of a sex-based harassment and discrimination prevention strategy or policy;

6.2          The inclusion of a grievance process in any sex-based harassment and discrimination prevention policy;

6.3          Workplace training, if any, for managers on sex-based harassment and discrimination;

6.4          The frequency of workplace training about sex-based harassment and discrimination.”

 

Fair Work Australia

From 1 January 2014, there will be a quick option for employees who have a bullying complaint, with the Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) having jurisdiction to deal with bullying complaints and to make orders for bullying to stop.  Employees will not have to raise issues in their workplace prior to lodging a complaint with the FWC.  This will be in addition to the other jurisdictions that Employees currently have to pursue their complaints including through Work Health and Safety legislation, Anti-discrimination legislation, Criminal Law and also Fair Work Australia in respect of unfair dismissal or adverse actions.

 

Some workers mistake certain discussions with management as bullying when it is really just practices that are classified as “reasonable management action” such as performance management or disciplinary action carried out in a professional manner.Some managers, through unprofessional behaviour, mistakenly believe they will be protected under “reasonable management action”.  With the new FWC coming on line, to prevent these misunderstandings costing time and money at the FWC, it is important that all people in your organisation understand what is acceptable and what is not.

 

What does this mean to you?

It is important for you to conduct a review on your organisation to ensure that you can show that you have implemented a system that will safeguard your organisation in respect of the costs associated with bullying, discrimination and harassment.

 

The Human Rights Commission website outlines recommended steps to prevent harassment[2] and discrimination which includes but not limited to:

  1. Written policy that is regularly distributed and promoted at all levels of the organisation, including incorporating it into a new employees induction;
  2. Train all line managers on their role in ensuring that the workplace is free from discrimination and harassment and that they are modelling professional behaviour at all times;
  3. Conduct awareness raising sessions for all staff on discrimination and harassment issues;
  4. Written, communicated and understood grievance process which include a proper investigative process.

 

If you would like any further information on having a review of your organisations current systems please contactKristen@alliedrisk.com.au


 

[1] http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L00434

[2]http://www.humanrights.gov.au/employer-responsibilities-guide-vicarious-liability

Kristen Gower

More reasons why Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination are not good business

This year there are two additional reasons why your business should ensure that steps have been taken to prevent harassment, bullying and discrimination at your workplace.  In addition to the costs impacting on the business through productivity, morale and turnover to name a few, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and Fair Work Australia have new legislation putting pressure on organisations to make it a priority.

 

Workplace Gender Equality Agency – New Gender Reporting

The ‘Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012’ which replaced the ‘Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999’, is focused on promoting and improving gender equality.  More information on the Act can be found on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website at www.wgea.gov.au.

 

This act requires “relevant employers”, that is non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees to report annually.  This report is due between 1 April and 31 May.  There are six Gender Equality Indicators that will be required to be reported on, the sixth indicator is noted as “any other matters specified by the Minister in a legislative instrument” and for the 2013/2014 year this GEI 6 is “sex-based harassment and discrimination”, matters that will be required to be reported are outlined in the ‘Workplace Gender Equality (Matters in relation to Gender Equality Indicators) instrument 2013 (No.1)[1] are as follows:

6.1 The existence of a sex-based harassment and discrimination prevention strategy or policy;

6.2          The inclusion of a grievance process in any sex-based harassment and discrimination prevention policy;

6.3          Workplace training, if any, for managers on sex-based harassment and discrimination;

6.4          The frequency of workplace training about sex-based harassment and discrimination.”

 

Fair Work Australia

From 1 January 2014, there will be a quick option for employees who have a bullying complaint, with the Fair Work Commission (“FWC”) having jurisdiction to deal with bullying complaints and to make orders for bullying to stop.  Employees will not have to raise issues in their workplace prior to lodging a complaint with the FWC.  This will be in addition to the other jurisdictions that Employees currently have to pursue their complaints including through Work Health and Safety legislation, Anti-discrimination legislation, Criminal Law and also Fair Work Australia in respect of unfair dismissal or adverse actions.

 

Some workers mistake certain discussions with management as bullying when it is really just practices that are classified as “reasonable management action” such as performance management or disciplinary action carried out in a professional manner.Some managers, through unprofessional behaviour, mistakenly believe they will be protected under “reasonable management action”.  With the new FWC coming on line, to prevent these misunderstandings costing time and money at the FWC, it is important that all people in your organisation understand what is acceptable and what is not.

 

What does this mean to you?

It is important for you to conduct a review on your organisation to ensure that you can show that you have implemented a system that will safeguard your organisation in respect of the costs associated with bullying, discrimination and harassment.

 

The Human Rights Commission website outlines recommended steps to prevent harassment[2] and discrimination which includes but not limited to:

  1. Written policy that is regularly distributed and promoted at all levels of the organisation, including incorporating it into a new employees induction;
  2. Train all line managers on their role in ensuring that the workplace is free from discrimination and harassment and that they are modelling professional behaviour at all times;
  3. Conduct awareness raising sessions for all staff on discrimination and harassment issues;
  4. Written, communicated and understood grievance process which include a proper investigative process.

 

If you would like any further information on having a review of your organisations current systems please contactKristen@alliedrisk.com.au


 

[1] http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2013L00434

[2]http://www.humanrights.gov.au/employer-responsibilities-guide-vicarious-liability

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