Prevention of Workplace
Harassment
Code of Practice 2004
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Department of Justice and ...
This Queensland code of practice was preserved as a code of practice under section 284
of the Work Health and Safety Act 2...
Contents
Introduction........................................................................................................
8. Decide on and implement control measures to prevent or control exposure
to the risks......................................
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004
5
Introduction
 
An approved code of practice is a practical guid...
Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that
the business or undertaking comp...
(c)a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or
threatening.
2. ‘Workplace harassment’...
 upwards (a worker harassing a manager/ supervisor; a nurse harassing a doctor)
 downwards (a supervisor/manager harassi...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 9
Acts of unlawful discrimination1
, vilification2
or sexual hara...
 poor morale and erosion of worker loyalty and commitment
 increased costs associated with: counselling, employee assist...
3.1.4 Duties of workers
Under the WHS Act, while at work, a worker must:
(a) take reasonable care for his or her own healt...
Step 3: Decide on Control Measures
Determine what control measures will
prevent or control exposure to the risk of
workpla...
5. Consultation
5.1 Who to consult
Under the WHS Act, if more than one person has a duty in relation to the same work
heal...
6. Identify the hazards
This step involves finding out if there is a problem with harassment in the workplace, or
the pote...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 15
Table 1 Factors to consider when determining the risk of workp...
7.1.2 Workplace relationships
Poor workplace relationships and ineffective communication (for example, inadequate
informat...
Where workplace harassment has been identified and assessed to be a risk, PCBUs must
decide on and put in place control me...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 18
Table 2 Elements of a workplace harassment prevention policy
E...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 19
8.1.1 Gain commitment to the policy
The workplace harassment p...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 20
8.2.2 Formal complaint handling procedures
Some workplace hara...
8.3.1 Performance management processes
Performance management processes are generally used to:
 provide timely and accura...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 22
 offenders will become more conscious of their behaviour, how...
people management. Assessment should also be conducted to ensure that supervisory
staff are able to apply their newly acqu...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 24
If results indicate the control measures are not effective, th...
Appendix 1: Workplace harassment
prevention policy: Example
Ethical statement
[Name of workplace] is committed to ensuring...
Actions that are not workplace harassment
Legitimate and reasonable management actions and business processes, such as, ac...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 27
Where workers can go for assistance
A worker, who is being har...
Appendix 2: Suggested topics for training
according to target group
Type of training/
target group
Topics to cover
Awarene...
Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 29
Appendix 3: Methods to inform workers
about policies and proce...
of 29

Prevention workplace-harassment-cop-2004

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  • 1. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General
  • 2. This Queensland code of practice was preserved as a code of practice under section 284 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. This code was varied by the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations on 27 November 2011 and published in the Queensland Government Gazette on 2 December 2011. This preserved code commences on 1 January 2012. PN11183 © The State of Queensland (Department of Justice and Attorney-General) 2011 Copyright protects this document. The State of Queensland has no objection to this material being reproduced, but asserts its right to be recognised as author of the original material and the right to have the material unaltered. The material presented in this publication is distributed by the Queensland Government as an information source only. The State of Queensland makes no statements, representations, or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and the reader should not rely on it. The Queensland Government disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including, without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way, and for any reason.
  • 3. Contents Introduction................................................................................................................................... 5 1. What is workplace harassment?...................................................................................... 6 1.1 Meaning of ‘workplace harassment’....................................................................................6 1.2 Who may experience workplace harassment? .....................................................................7 1.3 What is ‘repeated’ behaviour? .............................................................................................8 1.4 What is not workplace harassment?.....................................................................................8 1.4.1 Single incidents....................................................................................................... 8 1.4.2 Managerial actions.................................................................................................. 8 1.4.3 Discrimination and sexual harassment.................................................................... 8 2. Impact of workplace harassment .................................................................................... 9 2.1 How workplace harassment can affect a person..................................................................9 2.2 How workplace harassment can affect a business ...............................................................9 3. Legislation covering workplace harassment ............................................................... 10 3.1 Work Health and Safety Act 2011......................................................................................10 3.1.1 Primary duty of care.............................................................................................. 10 3.1.2 Duty of persons conducting businesses or undertakings involving management or control of workplaces.................................................................................. 10 3.1.3 Duty of officers..................................................................................................... 10 3.1.4 Duties of workers.................................................................................................. 11 3.1.5 Duties of other persons at the workplace.............................................................. 11 4. Risk management process.............................................................................................. 11 5. Consultation..................................................................................................................... 13 5.1 Who to consult...................................................................................................................13 5.2 Why consult .......................................................................................................................13 5.3 How to consult...................................................................................................................13 5.4 What to consult about ........................................................................................................13 6. Identify the hazards ........................................................................................................ 14 6.1 Indirect signs of workplace harassment.............................................................................14 7. Assess the risks................................................................................................................ 14 7.1 Other factors that may increase the risk of workplace harassment occurring ..................15 7.1.1 Organisational change........................................................................................... 15 7.1.2 Workplace relationships........................................................................................ 16 7.1.3 Workplace culture................................................................................................. 16 7.1.4 Human resource systems....................................................................................... 16 7.2 Recording the outcomes of risk assessments.....................................................................16
  • 4. 8. Decide on and implement control measures to prevent or control exposure to the risks........................................................................................................................ 16 8.1 Workplace harassment prevention policy..........................................................................17 8.1.1 Gain commitment to the policy............................................................................. 19 8.2 Complaint handling system................................................................................................19 8.2.1 Informal complaint handling procedure................................................................ 19 8.2.2 Formal complaint handling procedures ................................................................ 20 8.2.3 Encourage reporting of workplace harassment allegations .................................. 20 8.3 Human resource systems....................................................................................................20 8.3.1 Performance management processes .................................................................... 21 8.3.2 Establish open communication systems................................................................ 21 8.4 Training and education ......................................................................................................21 8.4.1 Create awareness of workplace harassment.......................................................... 22 8.4.2 Effective people management training for supervisors ........................................ 22 8.4.3 Keep training records............................................................................................ 23 9. Monitor and review......................................................................................................... 23 9.1 Review risk assessment......................................................................................................23 9.2 Keep records of the monitor and review process...............................................................24 Appendix 1: Workplace harassment prevention policy: Example......................................... 25 Ethical statement............................................................................................................................25 Appendix 2: Suggested topics for training according to target group................................... 28 Appendix 3: Methods to inform workers about policies and procedures.............................. 29
  • 5. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 5 Introduction   An approved code of practice is a practical guide to achieving the standards of health, safety and welfare required under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (the WHS Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (the Regulation). A code of practice applies to anyone who has a duty of care in the circumstances described in the code. In most cases, following an approved code of practice would achieve compliance with the health and safety duties in the WHS Act, in relation to the subject matter of the code. Like regulations, codes of practice deal with particular issues and do not cover all hazards or risks which may arise. The health and safety duties require duty holders to consider all risks associated with work, not only those for which regulations and codes of practice exist. Codes of practice are admissible in court proceedings under the WHS Act and Regulation. Courts may regard a code of practice as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control and may rely on the code in determining what is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to which the code relates. Compliance with the WHS Act and Regulation may be achieved by following another method, such as a technical or an industry standard, if it provides a standard of work health and safety equivalent to or higher than the code. An inspector may refer to an approved code of practice when issuing an improvement or prohibition notice. This code of practice provides practical guidance on what workplace harassment is, how to prevent it becoming a health and safety risk in the workplace and what to do if it does occur. This code is applicable to any workplace and contains information that is relevant to all persons conducting a business or undertaking and their workers. How the code is organised In providing guidance, the word ‘should’ is used in this code to indicate a recommended course of action, while ‘may’ is used to indicate an optional course of action. This code includes various references to the WHS Act, which sets out the legal requirements. These references are not exhaustive. The words ‘must’, ‘requires’ or ‘mandatory’ indicate that a legal requirement exists and must be complied with. Who has duties? A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has the primary duty under the WHS Act to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking.
  • 6. Officers, such as company directors, have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulation. Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to take reasonable care not to adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace. Consulting workers Consultation involves sharing of information, giving workers a reasonable opportunity to express views and taking those views into account before making decisions on health and safety matters. The WHS Act requires that you consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for you who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a work health and safety matter. If the workers are represented by a health and safety representative, the consultation must involve that representative. Consulting, cooperating and coordinating activities with other duty holders The WHS Act requires that you consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other persons who have a work health or safety duty in relation to the same matter, so far as is reasonably practicable. Sometimes you may share responsibility for a health and safety matter with other business operators who are involved in the same activities or who share the same workplace. In these situations, you should exchange information to find out who is doing what and work together in a cooperative and coordinated way so that all risks are eliminated or minimised as far as reasonably practicable. Further guidance on consultation is available in the Work Health and Safety Consultation, Coordination and Cooperation Code of Practice. 1. What is workplace harassment? 1.1 Meaning of ‘workplace harassment’ 1. A person is subjected to ‘workplace harassment’ if the person is subjected to repeated behaviour, other than behaviour amounting to sexual harassment, by a person, including the person’s employer or a co-worker or group of co-workers of the person that: (a)is unwelcome and unsolicited (b)the person considers to be offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 6
  • 7. (c)a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening. 2. ‘Workplace harassment’ does not include reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way by the person’s employer in connection with the person’s employment. 3. In this section: ‘sexual harassment’ see the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, section 119. This definition is intended to cover a wide range of behaviours that can have an adverse impact on the health and safety of workers and other persons where work is being done. Harassing behaviours can range from subtle intimidation to more obvious aggressive tactics. Detailed below are examples of behaviours that may be regarded as workplace harassment, if the behaviour is repeated or occurs as part of a pattern of behaviour. This is not an exhaustive list – however, it does outline some of the more common types of harassing behaviours. Examples include:  abusing a person loudly, usually when others are present  repeated threats of dismissal or other severe punishment for no reason  constant ridicule and being put down  leaving offensive messages on email or the telephone  sabotaging a person’s work, for example, by deliberately withholding or supplying incorrect information, hiding documents or equipment, not passing on messages and getting a person into trouble in other ways  maliciously excluding and isolating a person from workplace activities  persistent and unjustified criticisms, often about petty, irrelevant or insignificant matters  humiliating a person through gestures, sarcasm, criticism and insults, often in front of customers, management or other workers  spreading gossip or false, malicious rumours about a person with an intent to cause the person harm. There are bound to be occasional differences of opinion, conflicts and problems in working relationships – these are part of working life. However, if the workplace behaviour is repeated, unwelcomed and unsolicited, and offends, intimidates, humiliates or threatens a person, then workplace harassment exists and action must be taken to stop the behaviour. 1.2 Who may experience workplace harassment? Workplace harassment can occur between people in any direction within a workplace, for example:  laterally (a co-worker harassing another co-worker) Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 7
  • 8.  upwards (a worker harassing a manager/ supervisor; a nurse harassing a doctor)  downwards (a supervisor/manager harassing a worker; a doctor harassing a nurse). 1.3 What is ‘repeated’ behaviour? ‘Repeated’ refers to the constant nature of the behaviour, not the specific type of harassing behaviour. Behaviour is considered ‘repeated’ if an established pattern can be identified. It may involve a series of diverse incidents – for example, verbal abuse, sabotaging a person’s work and unreasonable threats of dismissal. 1.4 What is not workplace harassment? According to the definition, the following situations are not considered to be workplace harassment. 1.4.1 Single incidents A single incident of harassing type behaviour is not considered to be workplace harassment. Nevertheless, single incidents of harassing type behaviour should not be ignored or allowed. Well-managed intervention in response to single incidents will help prevent the situation from escalating. 1.4.2 Managerial actions This code of practice does not cover situations where a worker has a grievance about reasonable management actions, taken in a reasonable way. Reasonable management actions include legitimate:  performance management processes  action taken to transfer or retrench a worker  a decision not to provide a promotion in connection with the worker’s employment  disciplinary actions  allocated work in compliance with systems and policies  injury and illness processes  business processes, such as, workplace change or restructuring. However, these management actions may still be relevant to the code of practice where:  managerial actions are primarily used to offend, intimidate, humiliate or threaten workers  processes create an environment where workplace harassment is more likely to occur. 1.4.3 Discrimination and sexual harassment Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 8
  • 9. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 9 Acts of unlawful discrimination1 , vilification2 or sexual harassment3 are not covered under this code of practice. In situations where such acts are involved, a complaint may be made to the:  Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991  Australian Human Rights Commission under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Racial Discrimination Act 1975 or Sex Discrimination Act 1984. 2. Impact of workplace harassment Workplace harassment can have a significant negative impact on both people and businesses, as outlined in the following sections. 2.1 How workplace harassment can affect a person There are a range of psychological and physical illnesses and injuries that an individual who continues to be exposed to workplace harassment may experience. The effects of workplace harassment on a person may include:  high levels of distress, impaired ability to make decisions and poor concentration  loss of self-confidence and self-esteem and feelings of social isolation at work  panic attacks, anxiety disorders, depression, social phobia (withdrawal from usual social interaction) and deteriorating relationships with family and friends  reduced output and performance, incapacity to work, loss of employment  sleep disturbances, such as, insomnia or severe tiredness. 2.2 How workplace harassment can affect a business It makes good business sense to ensure workplace harassment is prevented or controlled. Workplace harassment can have significant human and financial costs for a business and can lead to:  the breakdown of teams and individual relationships  poor worker health  reduced efficiency, productivity and profitability  bad publicity, poor public image – becoming ‘known’ as a difficult workplace environment  increased absenteeism and staff turnover 1 Discrimination on the basis of the following attributes— (a) sex; (b) relationship status; (c) pregnancy; (d) parental status; (e) breastfeeding; (f ) age; (g) race; (h) impairment; (i) religious belief or religious activity; (j) political belief or activity; (k) trade union activity; (l) lawful sexual activity; (m) gender identity; (n) sexuality; (o) family responsibilities; (p) association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes. 2 Vilification refers to a public act which incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons on the ground of the race, religion, sexuality or gender identity of the person or members of the group. 3 Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcome attention of a sexual nature that is humiliating, intimidating or offensive
  • 10.  poor morale and erosion of worker loyalty and commitment  increased costs associated with: counselling, employee assistance, mediation, recruitment and training of new workers  increased legal costs and workers’ compensation claims. 3. Legislation covering workplace harassment The main object of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 is to secure the health and safety of workers and workplaces by protecting workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination or minimisation of risks arising from work. ‘Health’ under the WHS Act means physical and psychological health. The WHS Act imposes health and safety duties on a person conducting a business or undertaking (a PCBU) and other duty holders at workplaces to protect workers and other persons from harm to their health, safety and welfare arising from work. This section defines and outlines the duties of PCBUs, PCBUs in control of workplaces, workers and other persons. 3.1 Work Health and Safety Act 2011 3.1.1 Primary duty of care A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of:  workers engaged or caused to be engaged by the PCBU; and  workers whose activities in carrying out the work are influenced or directed by the PCBU. A PCBU must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking. 3.1.2 Duty of persons conducting businesses or undertakings involving management or control of workplaces A PCBU with management or control of a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace is without risks to the health and safety of any person. 3.1.3 Duty of officers If a PCBU has a duty or obligation under this Act, an officer of the PCBU must exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with that duty or obligation. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 10
  • 11. 3.1.4 Duties of workers Under the WHS Act, while at work, a worker must: (a) take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and (b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons; and (c) comply, so far as the worker is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the PCBU to allow the PCBU to comply with this Act; and (d) cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure of the PCBU relating to health or safety at the workplace that has been notified to workers. A person is a ‘worker’ if the person carries out work in any capacity for the PCBU, including the workers listed in section 7 of the WHS Act. 3.1.5 Duties of other persons at the workplace A person at a workplace, whether or not the person has another duty under this part, must— (a) take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety; and (b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons; and (c) comply, so far as the person is reasonably able, with any reasonable instruction that is given by the PCBU to allow the PCBU to comply with this Act. 4. Risk management process Workplace harassment can occur in any workplace, given certain circumstances. It is important that PCBUs apply the risk management process to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. The risk management process involves: 1. identifying the hazards 2. assessing the risks that may result because of the hazards 3. deciding on control measures to prevent or control the level of the risks 4. implementing control measures 5. monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of the control measures. This process is illustrated in Figure 1. Refer to the How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice for further information about this process.7 Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 11
  • 12. Step 3: Decide on Control Measures Determine what control measures will prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. Step 3: Decide on Control Measures Determine what control measures will prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. Step 4: Implementation Put in place control measures to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. Step 4: Implementation Put in place control measures to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. Step 1. Identify the Hazards Identify if workplace harassment is a problem, or has the potential to be a problem in the workplace. Step 1. Identify the Hazards Identify if workplace harassment is a problem, or has the potential to be a problem in the workplace. Step 2: Assess the Risks What is the likelihood and consequences of workplace harassment occurring ? Step 2: Assess the Risks What is the likelihood and consequences of workplace harassment occurring ? C o n s u l t a t i o n C o n s u l t a t i o n Step 5: Montior and Review Assess the currency of the risk assessment and the effectiveness of the control measures implemented. Step 5: Montior and Review Assess the currency of the risk assessment and the effectiveness of the control measures implemented. Figure 1 The work health and safety risk management process. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 12
  • 13. 5. Consultation 5.1 Who to consult Under the WHS Act, if more than one person has a duty in relation to the same work health and safety matter, each person with the duty must, as far as is reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities. The PCBU must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, as required under the WHS Act, with workers who are, or are likely to be, directly affected by a matter relating to work health or safety. The PCBU has an obligation to consult, as far as is reasonably practicable, on work health and safety matters with any health and safety representative for a group of workers carrying out work for the business or undertaking. 5.2 Why consult Consulting with workers and other persons will help PCBUs to:  increase awareness about workplace harassment and promote open communication about the issue  identify the hazards and assess if workplace harassment is a problem  determine the most appropriate control measures  gain support, acceptance and commitment to the control measures implemented at the workplace  determine the effectiveness of the control measures. 5.3 How to consult Consultation can take the form of informal on-the-job discussions with a work unit, HS committee meetings, staff meetings, special working parties or anonymous surveys. 5.4 What to consult about Consultation should occur at all stages of the risk management process, particularly when:  identifying hazards and risk factors  identifying suitable measures to prevent or control the risks  determining the best way to raise awareness of the issue  developing the workplace harassment prevention policy  developing complaint handling procedures, including reporting, investigation, resolution and appeal processes. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 13
  • 14. 6. Identify the hazards This step involves finding out if there is a problem with harassment in the workplace, or the potential for a problem. It should not be assumed the workplace is free of harassment just because there are no obvious signs of workplace harassment. Workplace harassment is often subtle or hidden, making it difficult to detect in the workplace. Workers may also be reluctant to report harassment because they fear ‘payback’ from the harasser, believe that they will be labelled as ‘weak’ or that no one will act on the problem. Hazards that may cause or contribute to workplace harassment can be identified through:  personal observations (for example, assessment of workplace behaviours)  discussions with workers, including managers and supervisors, HSRs, HS committees and employee counsellors  anonymous organisational climate/worker opinion surveys  interviews with workers who leave (exit interviews)  an analysis of human resource statistics, for example: - increases in workplace harassment grievances or complaints - increases in workers’ compensation claims relating to workplace harassment. 6.1 Indirect signs of workplace harassment Signs of workplace harassment may appear indirectly. These signs may not always be linked with workplace harassment and need to be considered within the overall workplace environment. Indirect signs of harassment may include:  changes in human resource management trends, for example: (a)increases in levels of absenteeism and staff turnover (b)increases in the use of employee counselling services  workers leaving the organisation reporting dissatisfaction with working relationships  negative results from organisational climate/worker opinion surveys  the breakdown of relationships between workers, customers or management  workers becoming withdrawn and isolated  poor worker morale and erosion of loyalty and commitment. 7. Assess the risks PCBUs who identify hazards in the workplace will need to assess the risk (likelihood and consequences) of these hazards causing death, injury or illness to a person at the workplace. Some of the factors that can affect the risk of workplace harassment occurring are outlined in table 1. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 14
  • 15. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 15 Table 1 Factors to consider when determining the risk of workplace harassment Factor Factor Issues 1. Likelihood of workplace harassment occurring in the workplace For example, to what extent do (a) organisational climate/worker opinion surveys, (b) discussions with workers or (c) personal observations suggest that workplace harassment is a problem? Are there factors that may increase the risk of workplace harassment occurring, present in your workplace? (See section 7.1) Does the workplace have any control measures currently in place to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment, for example, a prevention policy and complaint handling system? How effective are these measures at preventing or controlling exposure to the risk of workplace harassment? 2. Consequences of exposure to workplace harassment Some of the possible consequences from exposure to workplace harassment are outlined in Section 2. Answering these questions will help you rate the risk level of the hazards. 7.1 Other factors that may increase the risk of workplace harassment occurring A number of workplace factors have been linked with incidents of workplace harassment. The presence of these factors does not necessarily mean workplace harassment exists, but may increase the risk of workplace harassment occurring now or in the future. 7.1.1 Organisational change Research has established a relationship between levels of workplace harassment and organisational change, particularly where several factors are present4 . These include a new manager or supervisor, a change in ownership of the company, a reorganisation of the company or the introduction of new technology. Organisational change may inadvertently create an environment that increases the risk of workplace harassment occurring. 4 Irish Taskforce on the Prevention of Workplace Bullying (2001). Dignity at work – The challenge of workplace bullying. The Stationery Office: Dublin.
  • 16. 7.1.2 Workplace relationships Poor workplace relationships and ineffective communication (for example, inadequate information flow or a lack of consultation with workers) may create an environment where workplace harassment is more likely to occur. 7.1.3 Workplace culture Workplaces that condone teasing or practical jokes against workers, initiation practices for new workers, or are generally complacent about harassing type behaviours are more likely to experience workplace harassment. 7.1.4 Human resource systems Human resource system factors that may increase exposure to the risk of workplace harassment include:  ineffective policies and complaint handling procedures to manage workplace harassment grievances and appeals  poorly-defined jobs and high levels of uncertainty about job requirements. 7.2 Recording the outcomes of risk assessments PCBUs should keep a record of the risk assessment. Keeping a written record is useful because it provides evidence that you are meeting part of your workplace health and safety, duties and can help you when undertaking future risk assessments. The risk assessment record should include the:  name/s of assessor/s  date of the risk assessment  hazards that have been assessed  evaluation of the risk of workplace harassment  action that needs to be taken to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. 8. Decide on and implement control measures to prevent or control exposure to the risks Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 16
  • 17. Where workplace harassment has been identified and assessed to be a risk, PCBUs must decide on and put in place control measures to prevent or control this risk. Preventative measures should be aimed at the source of the risk, and may include a broad organisational response, as well as more targeted initiatives that address symptoms in a specific area. A strategy aimed at preventing or controlling exposure to the risk of workplace harassment should include:  a workplace harassment prevention policy  a complaint handling system  a review of human resource systems  training and education. No single control measure will effectively prevent or control workplace harassment from occurring. It is important these control measures are used together, as part of a broader strategy to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. 8.1 Workplace harassment prevention policy PCBUs should ensure a workplace harassment prevention policy is developed and implemented in the workplace. The policy should outline the workplace’s commitment to address harassment and expectations regarding appropriate workplace behaviour. The policy may be a stand-alone policy or form part of an existing health and safety policy, or code of conduct for all workers. The prevention policy should be:  easy to understand  provided in languages other than English, if required  displayed where all workers can read it  consistent with the workplace’s other health and safety policies and objectives. An effective workplace harassment prevention policy should include the elements outlined in Table 2. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 17
  • 18. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 18 Table 2 Elements of a workplace harassment prevention policy Elements Description 1. Value statement State the workplace’s commitment to providing workers and others with a healthy and safe work environment, free from workplace harassment. 2. Define workplace harassment Reference this code’s definition of workplace harassment and provide examples of harassing behaviours. Clearly outline what is not considered to be workplace harassment. 3. Impact of workplace harassment Outline the health and safety risks to persons and the business from workplace harassment. 4. Encourage reporting of workplace harassment Encourage workers who experience workplace harassment to report it. 5. Duties of PCBUs, workers and other persons Detail the duties of PCBUs, workers and other persons under the WHS Act. 6. Workplace strategies to prevent or control workplace harassment Outline the control measures that the workplace will implement to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. 7. Commitment to investigate allegations promptly State that any allegations of workplace harassment will be treated seriously, and investigated promptly and impartially. 8. Consequences of breach of policy Outline the remedial/disciplinary action5 that will be taken against a person who:  harasses a worker  victimises someone who has made a complaint  makes malicious, frivolous or vexatious complaints6 . 9. Support services Provide details of the assistance or support available to workers to manage and resolve workplace harassment complaints. 10. Management commitment Have the employer/chief executive/management to sign and date the policy to demonstrate their commitment. 11. Policy review Include details of when the policy will be reviewed. Elements Description Refer to Appendix 1 for an example of a workplace harassment prevention policy. 5 In taking action, PCBUs must ensure they comply with the Industrial Relations Act 1999. 6 Malicious, frivolous or vexatious complaints include complaints that are deliberately harmful, spiteful, trivial or unworthy of serious attention or resources.
  • 19. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 19 8.1.1 Gain commitment to the policy The workplace harassment prevention policy is more likely to be effective if you gain workers’ support and commitment to the policy. You can facilitate this commitment by:  developing a policy that is relevant to your workplace, its needs, people and conditions  developing the policy in consultation with workers, including managers, supervisors, HSRs and HS committees  securing the support of the employer/ chief executive/management  ensuring the policy is followed, and consistently and fairly applied. 8.2 Complaint handling system An important part of managing incidents of workplace harassment is to develop and implement a complaint handling system to manage informal and formal workplace harassment complaints. Having agreed procedures in place will help ensure consistency in your approach to these complaints. When developing and implementing your complaint handling system, ensure the principles of natural justice7 are maintained. 8.2.1 Informal complaint handling procedure An informal complaint handling procedure may simply encourage workers to raise their harassment complaint with an appropriate contact person at the workplace (for example, immediate supervisor, manager or HSR) so that it may be managed and resolved in an informal and fair manner. Having an informal resolution process in place is good for health and safety and business. Resolving complaints informally is generally more effective, requires fewer resources, is more expedient and often prevents further escalation of the issue. Interpersonal conflicts are often effectively resolved through open discussion between parties. This should be encouraged as the first step in every complaint, unless otherwise requested by the complainant. 7 The principles of natural justice are: (a) The person alleged to have committed workplace harassment is presumed to be innocent until allegations are proved to be true. (b) All allegations of workplace harassment are investigated promptly. (c) The person who has allegedly committed the workplace harassment is informed of all the allegations and given an opportunity to explain his or her version of events. (d) Should the complaint be proven to be true, then remedial action must be taken.
  • 20. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 20 8.2.2 Formal complaint handling procedures Some workplace harassment grievances may warrant the lodgement of a formal workplace harassment complaint. It is important that PCBUs establish procedures to manage these complaints. A formal complaint handling system should include:  a formal reporting procedure  an investigation procedure  a complaint resolution procedure  an appeals process8 . Workplaces that already have a complaint handling system in place will need to check the effectiveness and suitability of the system for handling workplace harassment grievances. 8.2.3 Encourage reporting of workplace harassment allegations PCBUs should encourage workers to report allegations of workplace harassment once a complaint handling system has been established. This benefits employers, workers and others as it allows PCBUs to:  take immediate action to address the complaint  provide prompt assistance or counsel to the complainant and respondent  obtain a more accurate picture of the nature and extent of workplace harassment. Workers will be encouraged to report allegations of workplace harassment if they believe the complaint handling system can be trusted and offers fair treatment to those involved. PCBUs should consult with the individuals and groups identified in Section 5.1 to ensure the complaint handling system is effective and meets the needs of all persons who work at the workplace. 8.3 Human resource systems Effective human resource systems can help prevent or control workplace harassment from occurring. Ensuring the workplace has effective and reasonable performance management processes and open communication systems are two ways you can achieve this. 8 An appeals process provides an avenue for workers to communicate, where possible, to a higher level of management their dissatisfaction with any decision or process considered to be unjust or unfair (for example, inadequate or ineffective managerial action taken in response to a workplace harassment complaint).
  • 21. 8.3.1 Performance management processes Performance management processes are generally used to:  provide timely and accurate feedback about job performance in a reasonable way  identify a person’s strengths, and training and development needs for current and future positions  set mutually agreed goals and competencies. Because of the often sensitive nature of the feedback, performance management should only be conducted by persons who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to conduct them in a reasonable way. Issues to consider when providing feedback include:  encouraging open communication, allowing the receiver to also voice their opinions and concerns  ensuring the person conducting the performance management process is supportive, delivers constructive feedback, and provides justification of observations and decisions made. 8.3.2 Establish open communication systems Workplace harassment is more likely to occur in conditions of secrecy and poor communication. Many forms of workplace harassment, such as spreading false, malicious rumours, or withholding important information from a worker to their disadvantage, prosper in poorly communicating workplaces. You can prevent or control exposure to these forms of workplace harassment by:  encouraging good channels of communication, for example, through regular staff meetings  consulting and discussing with workers issues that may affect them, particularly during periods of organisational change or restructure  using an issue resolution process where appropriate  encouraging ‘open door’ management styles  implementing transparent decision making processes. 8.4 Training and education Under the WHS Act, PCBUs have a duty to ensure workplace health and safety. This may include making sure that workers are provided with the appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure health and safety. Training and educating workers on issues of workplace harassment is important for the following reasons:  workers including supervisors, managers, HSRs and HS committees become more aware of their roles and responsibilities Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 21
  • 22. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 22  offenders will become more conscious of their behaviour, how it may be perceived and the possible consequences of their actions. This may deter workplace harassing behaviours  workers will have a more accurate knowledge of what does and does not constitute workplace harassment  workers will become aware of the consequences of making malicious, frivolous or vexatious9 workplace harassment complaints  it can promote cultural change and a healthy and safe workplace  people who work at the workplace are informed and encouraged to take action against harassing behaviours. 8.4.1 Create awareness of workplace harassment Creating awareness of workplace harassment helps to reinforce management’s commitment to ensuring a healthy and safe working environment, even in workplaces with good practices and no record of problems. To create awareness of workplace harassment, PCBUs should provide training to all workers on general workplace harassment issues, including the prevention policy and procedures for making complaints. The most appropriate combination of information, instruction, training and supervision will depend on the needs of workers and the workplace. Appendix 2 suggests topics for training according to the target group being trained. Appendix 3 proposes ways to inform workers about policies and procedures. PCBUs will also need to tailor training to meet the special needs of workers with respect to gender, age, disability, work experience, and language and literacy levels. 8.4.2 Effective people management training for supervisors Workers will generally work more efficiently and productively if they are treated fairly and respectfully, and given an opportunity to use their initiative and judgement. People with supervisory responsibilities need to demonstrate their understanding and acceptance of this through their management behaviours. It is important that PCBUs identify any workers with ineffective managerial styles as these behaviours may contribute to workplace harassment. PCBUs should address any concerns they have with particular management behaviours, in a reasonable manner, through the performance management process. Workers with supervisory responsibilities should also be provided with training that focuses on developing a greater understanding of human behaviour, communication and 9 Malicious, frivolous or vexatious complaints include complaints that are deliberately harmful, spiteful, trivial or unworthy of serious attention or resources.
  • 23. people management. Assessment should also be conducted to ensure that supervisory staff are able to apply their newly acquired knowledge, skills and abilities in the workplace. 8.4.3 Keep training records Keep records of any training conducted on workplace harassment. Training records should include:  the date of the training session/s  the topics addressed at the training  whether knowledge, skills and abilities were attained  the name/s of the person/s who conducted the training  the name/s of the worker/s who attended the training. Training should be updated following any significant changes to a workplace harassment prevention policy, complaint handling system, or amendments to relevant legislation. 9. Monitor and review Regularly checking the effectiveness of the control measures implemented and monitoring for signs of workplace harassment, is an important part of preventing and controlling exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. PCBUs can achieve this by checking if performance indicators are being met, for example:  increases in reported levels of work satisfaction  increases in percentage of workers who have completed training and are assessed to be competent  increases in percentage of complaints resolved internally  decreases in percentage of workplace harassment complaints. 9.1 Review risk assessment It is also important to check that the initial hazards identified and assessed are still valid. Significant changes to work and work systems could affect the risk profile of the workplace. Hazards may have changed and control measures may need to be updated. Evaluate the appropriateness and currency of the risk assessment, for example, by:  Reviewing the workplace’s complaint and investigation records, and exit interviews for signs of common workplace problems. Do the risk assessment again if the hazards and risks are different to those originally identified.  Consulting with workers including managers, supervisors, HSRs and HS committees to determine changes in people’s experiences of harassment. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 23
  • 24. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 24 If results indicate the control measures are not effective, then you will need to adjust them or look for different ways of preventing or controlling exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. 9.2 Keep records of the monitor and review process It is important to document all monitoring and reviews of the risk assessment, and any measures used to prevent or control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. A record of any decisions and the reasons for those decisions should also be kept. Failure to review the risk assessment and control measures could increase the vicarious liability of PCBUs, should workplace harassment occur.
  • 25. Appendix 1: Workplace harassment prevention policy: Example Ethical statement [Name of workplace] is committed to ensuring a healthy and safe workplace that is free from workplace harassment. Workplace harassment is unacceptable and will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Definition of workplace harassment (1) A person is subjected to ‘workplace harassment’ if the person is subjected to repeated behaviour, other than behaviour amounting to sexual harassment, by a person, including the person’s employer or a co-worker or group of co-workers of the person that: (a) is unwelcome and unsolicited (b) the person considers to be offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening (c) a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening. (2) ‘Workplace harassment’ does not include reasonable management action taken in a reasonable way by the person’s employer in connection with the person’s employment. (3) In this section ‘sexual harassment’ see the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, section 119. Detailed below are examples of behaviours that may be regarded as workplace harassment, if the behaviour is repeated or occurs as part of a pattern of behaviour. This is not an exhaustive list – however, it does outline some of the more common types of harassing behaviours. Examples include:  abusing a person loudly, usually when others are present  repeated threats of dismissal or other severe punishment for no reason  constant ridicule and being put down  leaving offensive messages on email or the telephone  sabotaging a person’s work, for example, by deliberately withholding or supplying incorrect information, hiding documents or equipment, not passing on messages and getting a person into trouble in other ways  maliciously excluding and isolating a person from workplace activities  persistent and unjustified criticisms, often about petty, irrelevant or insignificant matters  humiliating a person through gestures, sarcasm, criticism and insults, often in front of customers, management or other workers  spreading gossip or false, malicious rumours about a person with an intent to cause the person harm. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 25
  • 26. Actions that are not workplace harassment Legitimate and reasonable management actions and business processes, such as, actions taken to transfer, demote, discipline, redeploy, retrench or dismiss a worker are not considered to be workplace harassment, provided these actions are conducted in a reasonable way. Effects of workplace harassment on people and the business Workplace harassment has detrimental effects on people and the business. It can create an unsafe working environment, result in a loss of trained and talented workers, the breakdown of teams and individual relationships, and reduced efficiency. People who are harassed can become distressed, anxious, withdrawn, depressed, and can lose self-esteem and self-confidence. Workplace strategies to eliminate workplace harassment [Name of workplace] will take the following actions to prevent and control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment:  provide all workers with workplace harassment awareness training  develop a code of conduct for workers to follow  introduce a complaint handling system and inform all workers on how to make a complaint, the support systems available, options for resolving grievances and the appeals process  regularly review the workplace harassment prevention policy, complaint handling system and training. Responsibilities of workers [Name of workplace] requires all workers to behave responsibly by complying with this policy, to not tolerate unacceptable behaviour, to maintain privacy during investigations and to immediately report incidents of workplace harassment to [insert details of appropriate contact person, for example, immediate supervisor, manager, or HSR]. Managers and supervisors must also ensure that workers are not exposed to workplace harassment. Management are required to personally demonstrate appropriate behaviour, promote the workplace harassment prevention policy, treat complaints seriously and ensure where a person lodges or is witness to a complaint, that this person is not victimised. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 26
  • 27. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 27 Where workers can go for assistance A worker, who is being harassed, can contact [insert details of appropriate contact person, for example, immediate supervisor, manager, or HSR] for information and assistance in the management and resolution of a workplace harassment complaint. Commitment to promptly investigate complaints [Name of workplace] has a complaint handling system which includes procedures for reporting, investigating, resolving and appealing workplace harassment complaints. Any reports of workplace harassment will be treated seriously and investigated promptly, fairly and impartially. A person making a complaint and/or who is a witness to workplace harassment will not be victimised. Consequences of breach of policy Disciplinary action will be taken against a person who harasses a worker or who victimises a person who has made or is a witness to a complaint. Complaints of alleged workplace harassment found to be malicious, frivolous or vexatious10 may make the complainant liable for disciplinary action. Review of policy This policy and the actions outlined above will be reviewed by [insert date], unless required earlier because of changes to the risk profile of the workplace or relevant legislation. If necessary, further changes and actions may be introduced to ensure that workplace harassment is prevented and controlled. Endorsement I/We have committed to this policy and its implementation, and to ensuring a healthy and safe work environment that is free from workplace harassment. [Chief Executive/Senior Management/Employer signatures] [date] 10 Malicious, frivolous or vexatious complaints include complaints that are deliberately harmful, spiteful, trivial or unworthy of serious attention or resources.
  • 28. Appendix 2: Suggested topics for training according to target group Type of training/ target group Topics to cover Awareness For everyone What workplace harassment is and is not – participants’ views, the effects and risk factors. Workplace harassment prevention policy and how to comply with the policy. Control measures to prevent and control exposure to the risk of workplace harassment. Information on the complaint handling system, including how to make informal and formal workplace harassment complaints and options for resolving and appealing such complaints. Induction For all new workers Topics covered in awareness training. Workers’ roles and responsibilities with respect to preventing workplace harassment. Legal duties of PCBUs, workers and other persons. Workplace harassment For all supervisors and managers Topics covered in induction training. Supervisor/manager’s role in the implementation of the workplace harassment prevention policy, including identifying warning signs, actions to be taken when workplace harassment is reported, and knowledge, skill and ability to apply the complaint handling procedures. Training and assessment in topics, including people management, communication, mediation and conflict resolution, leadership, managing diverse workforces, stress management, team building and performance management processes. The above topics may be covered through training programs alone or through a mix of information, instruction and training. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 28
  • 29. Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 29 Appendix 3: Methods to inform workers about policies and procedures There are a variety of different methods that PCBUs can use to ensure workers are aware, understand and take ownership of the workplace harassment prevention policy and complaint handling system. Some of these methods are detailed below. Options Description Distribute policies Distribute a copy of the workplace harassment prevention policy and relevant sections of the complaint handling system to all workers. Translate the documentation into other languages if needed. Training sessions Conduct training sessions about workplace harassment, the workplace harassment prevention policy and complaint handling system (refer also to Appendix 2). Verbal communication is important in workplaces where literacy is a problem amongst workers. Induction courses Induction courses to include information about the workplace harassment prevention policy and other related issues (refer also to Appendix 2). Appointment letters to include workplace harassment prevention policy. Include elements of the policy in the employment contract. Staff meetings and briefings Managers and supervisors to regularly discuss the workplace harassment prevention policy and complaint handling system at staff meetings and team briefings. Payslip attachments Attach the workplace harassment prevention policy to payslips. Posters Place workplace harassment prevention posters on notice boards for workers and other persons. Include the details of person/s who workers can contact to obtain information, and manage and resolve workplace harassment complaints. Pamphlets Develop brochures or pamphlets on the workplace harassment prevention policy and display them in prominent places throughout the workplace. Newsletters Place information about workplace harassment in newsletters. Staff manuals Place the workplace harassment prevention policy and complaint handling system in staff manuals. Intranet Place the workplace harassment prevention policy and complaint handling system on the internal computer network system.

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