Managing Workplace Relationships Prepared by: November 2010
Desired Outcomes from Today’s Session • Managers and employees are updated on key workplace relationships • A risk management approach to Bullying in the workplace is adopted • An internal complaints process is adopted
What Constitutes Bullying Is Broad • Bullying behaviour can range from very obvious verbal or physical assault to very subtle psychological abuse. This behaviour may include: • Verbal abuse • Excluding or isolating employees • Psychological harassment • Making someone the brunt of teasing, • pranks or practical jokes • Intimidation • Assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the job • Giving employees impossible assignments • Deliberately changing work rosters to inconvenience • particular employees • Deliberately withholding information vital for effective work performance • Performance counseling staff in public
Impact of harmonising OH&S laws Across All states. According to Hickson’s Law Firm partner Sarah Jones, policies won't be enough. The obligation on officers is not only to have a system in place, "but to be able to prove that it's being implemented - that they're doing training, that they're making sure everyone is aware of it, and they're following through if complaints are made". Penalties include corporate and individual fines (up to $3 million and $600,000 respectively), and jail terms of up to five years for the most serious offences.
Employers Have An Obligation To Provide A Work Environment That Is Free From Bullying Vicarious Liability Under federal anti-discrimination and bullying law an employer, regardless of their size, may be legally responsible for discrimination and harassment which occurs in the workplace or in connection with a person's employment unless it can be shown that 'all reasonable steps' have been taken to reduce this liability. This legal responsibility is called 'vicarious liability'. Where is vicarious liability applicable? The vicarious liability provisions of the legislation only apply where the alleged discrimination and harassment occurs in connection with the person's employment. This means the employer may be held vicariously liable for the actions of employees if they have not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination and harassment from occurring both within the usual work environment and at employer sponsored functions such as seminars, conferences, work functions, Christmas parties, business or field trips.
Employers Responsibilities under their Duty of Care To be informed about the issue To obtain commitment from senior staff to the implementation and continuous improvement of prevention policies and procedures To formally consult with employees at all levels about the development of prevention policies and procedures To undertake ongoing risk assessment To promote awareness through the provision of training, instruction, information (using various media) and engagement for example through discussion, meetings and supervision To ensure the provision of appropriate risk controls through various initiatives including the development of early notification systems and the handling of complaints in a competent, impartial, confidential and timely manner To provide support and advice to all stakeholders as required using internal and/or external services
The Absence Of Complaints The absence of complaints is not necessarily an indication that no harassment or bullying is occurring. The person subjected to harassing or bullying behaviour does not always complain. This is not necessarily because the act is deemed as trivial, but because the person may lack the confidence to speak up on their own behalf or feel too intimidated or embarrassed to complain.
The Liability Of Individuals The vicarious liability provisions of the legislation do not preclude individual persons from being held liable for their own discriminatory; bullying or harassing behaviour in the workplace or in connection with their employment. It may be that both the employer, who has been found to have not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination and harassment from occurring, and the individual, who is the alleged discriminator or harasser, will be held jointly liable for the behaviour.
The Internal Complaints Process Formal Process Complainant is unable or considers it inappropriate to confront alleged offender Complainant requests the matter be handled by formal complaints proceedings Actions are put into place and outcomes are recorded on file Investigation occurs either internally or with outside assistance Appropriate officer contacted for advice and support Behavior continues Decision made on type of process Situation reviewed to ensure complainant satisfied with outcome Alleged offender confronted by complainant alone or with support manager or officer Manager advises complainant to confront alleged offender if appropriate Behavior ceases Informal Process
What Do You Need Remember at all times • Legal and Financial Exposure to CVA • Personal Liability to both Managers and Staff • Moral Obligations • Reputation of CVA • Adhering to ‘Best Practice’
Any Questions? • Do you have any further questions regarding your Bullying exposure? • Do you feel there are areas you need further information on? • Is your policy manual up to date and being used? • Are your induction processes up to date in relation to HR policy?