Workplace Bullying & Harassment
What Constitutes Workplace Bullying in Australia?
Australian legislation is very specific when it comes to bullying and harassment in the workplace – and for good reason. With over 800 new claims of workplace bullying being made each month, employers are required by law to ensure that any and all of their employees are able to undergo grievance procedures in an official setting to avoid any legal recrimination.
What constitutes workplace harassment?
Any form of verbal or physical interaction that could be deemed by one party as uncomfortable, unfair, or undesirable can be considered harassment and could be cause for a bullying claim. As many employers might imagine, there are a shocking number of events that could lead to this type of event transpiring - and that’s why it’s important to ensure that the right proceedings are in place.
Legal proceedings against workplace bullying?
This can differ from business to business, but generally speaking (and within the Australian legal system) at least one should be present to provide a situation in which an aggrieved party can discuss their concerns in confidence, whilst being able to entrust that the management will be in a position to offer a solution.
Employee Assistance Programs
Some agencies introduce what is referred to as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) whereby a dedicated counsellor will be hired if and when the need arises – or taken on with a longer term goal in mind. The purpose of the counsellor’s presence is to provide support and guidance to any employee/s that may want to chat about an event or circumstance, with the option for further help.
This further help comes in the form of legal proceedings, should any be required. It won’t be the job of the counsellor to encourage an employee to take out legal action - quite the opposite, in fact. It will be their responsibility to help to promote a comfortable working environment; one in which all employees feel safe and secure.
Grievance Procedures and HR Resolution Processes
The Australian Government recently passed legislation to ensure that anyone working within a professional environment, from factory workers right through to upper management, can feel comfortable in the workplace. This legislation allows grievance procedures to be pursued properly with a governed harassment resolution process, or managed in-house.
There are even companies that outsource their Human Resources to a third party – one that will be unbiased and can’t be accused of acting in an unfair manner. This is a very safe option as it can allow the HR agency to manage any issues or conflicts that may arise within the workplace; whilst ensuring that the aggrieved party is able to benefit from the solution that is presented to them.