Your organisation must take reasonable steps to protect employees from harassment, discrimination and bullying
All organisations have a legally enforceable duty of care to protect their employees from harassment and workplace bullying. Failure to take reasonable steps can lead to significant costs and penalties. We also believe employers have a moral obligation to provide a safe workplace culture for their employees.
In the event of a claim against your organisation you will be asked:
What steps has the business taken to protect employees?
Have you trained your staff on bullying and sexual harassment?
Can you prove your staff attended training?
Can you prove your staff understood the training?
Was the training you provided adequate – did the training clearly explain rights and responsibilities?
Did managers and team leaders receive appropriate training?
What role did workplace culture play?
If you cannot adequately answer these questions your organisation could be at significant risk and we urge you to take action.
What happens if an organisation is found not to have taken reasonable steps?
Punitive damages and fines
Almost weekly we see examples of organisations who failed to take reasonable steps to protect their employees:
- Security worker $1.9 mil read more....
- Sales Executive $1.1mil read more....
- Retailer $850,000 read more....
- Cafe $220,000 read more...
Harm to reputation
In addition to financial penalties, organisations can suffer a loss of reputation. This can hurt the bottom line, damage your marketability as an employer of choice and embarrass owners, employees and other stakeholders.
What is expected of your organisation - Your duty of care
Your organisation should have:
- An Anti-bullying, Anti-discrimination policy.
- Easy access to leaders responsible for employees' health and safety and for the lawful management of issues.
- Options available for all employees to deal with an issue.
- An appointed Contact Officer or investigator to manage formal complaints if needed.
- A process for managing formal complaints (that embraces the principles of natural justice).
- Clearly articulated punitive measures for those who contravene relevant policies.
- Clearly articulated 'rights of the individual' throughout the period of a formal investigation.
- Training that provides leaders with an understanding of their accountabilities in these areas and the skills to deal with potential allegations of unlawful discrimination or bullying in the workplace.
- Training for employees to ensure they have the knowledge of what is considered unacceptable behaviour, what is unlawful discrimination and bullying and what to do if subjected to it.
- Contact Officers are not required by law; however the model is encouraged by the relevant legal bodies.
- A workplace culture that encourages employees to voice any of their grievances and/or concerns with leaders, without any feelings of prejudice or victimisation.
Looking for face to face training?
Contact our content partner iHR Australia. iHR Australia is the largest independent provider of anti-bullying, harassment, discrimination and EEO training across Australia.