Sexual Harassment Training

Sexual Harassment training, where do you draw the line?

Imagine a customer comes into your office and makes sexually harassing comments towards your staff. What you you as an employer/business owner might have to consider;

• Should you tell the customer that the behaviour in inappropriate?
• But the customer has a two million dollar account
• If you bring up the inappropriate behaviour you could lose the account.

In this case many managers/employers tell the staff members to ignore the customer, after all he has a two million dollar account, is this right? Consider this;
1. If the customer came into the office and stole 5 laptops, would it be ignored?
2. If the customer came into the office in a bad mood and smashed 5 laptops in a fit of anger, would it be ignored?
3. If the customer came into the office and assaulted the manger, would it be ignored?

The likelihood that 1,2 & 3 would not be ignored or tolerated, it’s no different from the customer coming into your office and sexually harassing your employees.

As an employer you are responsible for ensuring that you take all reasonable steps to reduce/eliminate/manage sexual harassment in the workplace.

Understanding the boundaries is very important for you and your employees, not sure, get some training, AWPTI can assist – https://awpti.com.au/sexual-harassment-training/

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide
Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

Workplace Bullying Complaint Investigations

Workplace Bullying Complaint Investigations a HR or WHS issues?

Having investigated 100s of workplace bullying complaint investigation and conducted many training sessions. I have found that the requests/engagements have always come from the HR department or another senior manager (if there is no dedicated HR) but never from a manager involved in safety or WHS.

Would a shift in responsibility for the handling of bullying and harassment complaints and training from HR to WHS/HSE affect the process and how bullying and harassment was viewed and dealt with in the workplace?

Should workplace bullying be teat like any other health hazard in the workplace?

An important consideration is how bullying/harassment complaints are addressed by external agencies. In my experience a complaint of bullying/harassment is often accompanied by a WorkCover or Worker’s compensation claim, this I think would tend to indicate that bullying and harassment complaint fall under the jurisdiction of WHS/HSE manager.

Contrary to this complaints that proceed to the Fair Work Commission in the form of anti-bullying orders seem to be the jurisdiction of the HR manager. Either way I think that it is important for employers or organisation to have trusted and effective training, policing and investigation processes in place. I would love to hear opinions from HR/HSE/WHS managers.

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide
Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

Workplace Investigation Performance Management

Workplace Investigation Performance Management – As a workplace investigator there are times when at least 50% of the complaints I investigate stem from employee disaffection with being performance managed.

Performance management is not bullying or harassment if it is reasonable management action that it is conducted in a reasonable manner. The Fair Work Act is clear that a worker is not bullied is they are subject to reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner (section 789FD)

There are a number of performance management mistakes that are particularly common,

Not dealing with poor performance when it arises, and hoping it all improves with time.

This is very common, not only does it mean that issues are not addressed, more importantly it gives the employee the sense that everything is OK, they are doing fine.

Unfortunately when that employee is approached by a manager who suggests that their performance is not up to where it should be the reaction is often shock and disbelief which translates in many cases to, you must be wrong, there is nothing wrong with what I am doing, why are you picking on me, this is bullying, this is harassment!!

Performance management is not bullying or harassment it is reasonable management action – when it is conducted in a reasonable manner.

When employers don’t want to confront an employee because they personally find it challenging and anticipate that the employee will also, they tend to give bland mixed messages which don’t convey the full picture to the employee.

Many managers don’t like to deliver bad news, unfortunately many managers are ‘gun shy’and are worried about upsetting people and getting complaints.

If you are a manager you are going to have to manage. If you manage there is a chance you are going to get complaints even if you are in the right and have followed the correct process. You cannot stop employees from complaining, remember in their mind, you are wrong, there is nothing wrong with their performance, so why are you picking on them, this must be bullying, this must be harassment!!

If you have an effective Performance management in place, dive it get it done.

Not acting to terminate employment when it has become clear that performance has gone way below the acceptable level and isn’t improving.

There are many reasons why an employee is reluctant to terminate and I have heard these reasons on a number of occasions;

  • The employee is a good person
  • The employee has a family
  • The employee is trying hard

In these cases an effective performance management process can often resolve the situation but as a manger you have to dive in and get it done.

Other reasons,

  • Fear of a bullying complaint
  • Fear of an unfair dismissal application
  • Fear of legal action.

If you have an effective performance management and a trusted investigation process in place, and assuming you have followed that process you will be able to defend actions against you, so stop worrying and dive in and get it done.

Now, if you don’t have effective performance management and a trusted investigation process in place it’s time to get on the phone and call an expert and start by getting some training in understanding the concept of Reasonable Management Action and how to conduct effective performance management. The money you spend may save you much more in the future, plus not having to worry………….. That’s priceless…… AWPTI can help, details here

So what does an investigator know about performance management?
We see it when it goes wrong, we see the mistakes, and we see it when the proper process has been followed but complaints are still made and of course we investigate the complaints.

Workplace Investigation Performance Management – Don’t get caught fearing performance management.

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide
Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

Workplace Investigation Negligence Claims

Workplace Investigation Negligence Claims – Recently in a long and expensive trial the Victorian Supreme Court rejected $1.8 million negligence claim against a construction company, rejecting claims that the behaviours of a manager towards a subordinate amounted to workplace bullying. Hingst v Construction Engineering (Aust) Pty Ltd (No 3) [2018] VSC 136 (29 March 2018) Link to case

Justice Zammit rejected allegations made by retrenched contract administrator David Hingst from Melbourne firm Construction Engineering Australia that his supervisor repeatedly abused him, resulting in depression, anxiety and physical injuries equating to $1.8 million in damages.

Nothing in the judgement indicates that the employer conducted a workplace investigation into the claims of bullying made by Hingst.  Had a workplace investigation been conducted it may have saved a lot of time and expense and a trial. An investigation by the employer would have been able to produce evidence to refute the employee’s claims.

The most important part of any court proceeding such as a Supreme Court trial or Fair Work Commission hearing is evidence. Evidence can be expertly gathered during a workplace investigation or you can rely on your witnesses at the actual trial. (I know which i would prefer).

In this case Mr Hingst made a the series of bullying claims including the allegation that his supervisor Mr Short would regularly “pass wind’ on him or at him and that the behaviour progressed to the point where he would do it every day.

Mr Hingst said Mr Short’s behaviour was insulting and humiliating and that he had responded by buying a can of deodorant and spraying it over Mr Short.

During the 18-day trial involving sixteen witnesses, the claims made by Mr Hingst were denied by the employer and other employees including Mr Short. Justice Zammit noted,  “It is important that I state upfront that I found the plaintiff to be an unreliable and unsatisfactory witness.”

During the trial Justice Zammit commented, I agree with the defendant that the plaintiff treated this proceeding as if it were a ‘judicial commission of inquiry’ into the way the defendant company operated rather than a bullying claim at common law.

As the trial progressed the court noted that it became evident that the plaintiff was more focused on his grievance about the loss of his employment than any bullying that took place during his time at the defendant company. His sense of having been betrayed by the defendant, and his former colleagues, was palpable. The plaintiff referred several times to feeling ‘hurt’ at being made redundant

Justice Zammit concluded that no Construction Engineering Australia staff had bullied or harassed Mr Hingst and noted evidence that domestic stress and dismissal probably led to Mr Hingst’s psychiatric injuries.

“It is in a sense tragic that the plaintiff’s redundancy appears to lie at the heart of his problems.”

Workplace Investigation Negligence Claims – Lesson & advice for employers

1. Decisions in trials in court or hearings at the Fair Work Commission are made on the evidence placed before the judge or commissioner.
2. Evidence crucial to the outcome of the matter will be gathered during the course of a workplace investigation
3. Investigate claims of bullying and harassment thoroughly, it may save you a lot of time and money in the long run
4. If you are not sure what to do, call an expert, AWPTI can assist – Workplace Investigations

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide
Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

 

Workplace Investigations – Mental health: The invisible challenge for business

Workplace Investigations Mental health – An important part of workplace investigations or performance management discussions is to allow the subject to respond to the issues and to listen, you never know what is going on in their life.

The pressures of daily life, financial stress, job insecurity and personal challenges create situations that flow into the workplace and can affect workplace investigations.

The costs of mental ill-health
In Australia, the cost of mental ill-health is said to be approximately $60 billion per annum. That’s roughly $4,000 per taxpayer. Putting aside the human cost, mental ill-health clearly has an economic impact on the growth of the Australian economy. This means it affects businesses, both directly and indirectly.
Managing what you can’t see
Mental health can be difficult for employers to understand. You can’t see the physical injury, so how do you know it exists? And while factors from outside the workplace play a significant role in creating mental health issues, the contributing factor of stress within the workplace can’t be ignored.

The impact of failing to manage mental ill-health in the workplace can include:

  • the loss of good employees
  • workers compensation claims
  • increased sick leave
  • high turnover of staff, and
  • bullying and harassment claims.

Trying to work out what causes mental ill-health in employees is difficult. It is an ‘invisible’ challenge for employers and one that requires a proactive approach for success.

Approaching with suspicion and looking to disprove an individual’s mental ill-health can have negative results for all involved.

Whether the individual is suffering mental ill-health from conditions like bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, depression, anxiety or stress, they are all manageable conditions that employees (and other members of the Australian public) live with every day.

If a claim arises, having the right support and policies in place is a better strategy than trying to prove the case against the employee.

Implementing a mental health plan in your workplace
With regulatory intervention likely in the near future, 2018 is the year that all businesses need to implement a mental health program in the workplace.

Our top five tips for developing a mental health plan are:

  1. Let go of unhelpful incidents of suspicion against employees claiming mental ill-health. In the absence of reasonable evidence to the contrary, give employees the benefit of the doubt.
  2. Provide managers and supervisors with training about mental ill-health.
  3. Treat employees with mental ill-health as you would any injured employee, by allowing them to take time off to recover from an injury and to seek a safe return to work.
  4. Ensure that employees feel supported and that their mental ill-health circumstances will be kept confidential (where possible).
  5. Provide access to external support (like Employee Assistance Programs and other counselling).
Benefits of a workplace mental health plan
If businesses can implement an effective mental health plan in the workplace in 2018, they will enjoy a range of tangible benefits over the medium term, including:
  • cultural improvements
  • increased productivity
  • fewer workers compensation claims
  • reduced sick leave, and
  • minimised legal liability.

Not only will you contribute to strengthening the Australian economy, you will be on the front foot when regulations start to roll in.

Originally published at hramag.com
https://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/mental-health-the-invisible-challenge-for-business-247849.aspx

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide

Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

Workplace Complaint Investigation – reluctant complainants

Workplace Complaint Investigation – How many of you have encountered the problem when a complaint is made but the complainant tells you that they don’t want the matter investigated

I often get asked by HR professional and managers, “What do I do if someone makes a complaint and then says that they don’t want me to do anything, they just wanted me to know.”

Despite what people think this is not a difficult situation, it becomes all about ownership of the complaint.

Once someone has made a complaint to you, YOU now own the complaint, what you do with it is your decision.

While you may wish to consider the desires of the complainant in the end you own the complaint, it is your responsibility and it the music stops, and you are the one left standing holding the complaint on your head be it.

You may have to tell the complainant that you must report this or must take action and if they then withdraw the complaint, well you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

It is also wise to remember that the employee may change his or her mind about not wanting the matter investigated, they might not actually tell you this, they might make a later complaint that you did nothing.

Finally, irrespective of an employee’s views on how their workplace issue should be managed, once an employer becomes aware of an issue, it is the employer’s decision about how the matter should be dealt with. It is imperative that the employer considers the potential risks arising from the complaint and makes an assessment about the extent to which the issue should be investigated and the process for doing so.

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide

Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/

Workplace bullying building trust – a recent article in HRD reference a A recent study conducted by Bupa that found a not so surprising link between trust and employee retention, with 53% of employees citing it as a major factor in whether they left a role. Article here

A great way to promote or destroy trust can be found in the way employers respond to incidents of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.  From an employees perspective seeing something done builds trust, watching as nothing is done destroys trust.

I have conducted a number of investigations where I have heard comment such as “there was no point reporting this in the past, nothing ever happens.” when I hear this I consider it to be a systematic failure on the part of the organisation and in such cases it is not uncommon for staff to leave.

Workplace bullying building trust – It is a problem for employers when they are losing good staff only to be left with the bullies.

Workplace bullying building trust – What can employers do to build trust?

  1. Have a policy in place that sets out the behavioural expectations of the organisation.
  2. Have a trusted reporting mechanism in place for workplace bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct. It is important to remember, the mechanism will only be result if the reporters see action.
  3. Have a timely process in place to fairly, professionally investigate complaints of workplace bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct.

It is important that;

  1. The process to be transparent, remember trust coming from seeing something done
  2. Parties involved are kept up to date with the progress of any investigation.
  3. The person assigned to investigate the complaint has the skill, experience and time to do so in a fair and unbiased manner. If that can’t be achieved consider using an external investigator.

AWPTI can assist you with complete investigation services, however if you wish to DIY we suggest that you purchase our comprehensive Workplace Investigation Toolbox that contains 40 documents and manuals

  1. Step by step workplace investigation instructions (20 documents) (pdf)
  2. Complaint Analysis Chart (pdf)
  3. Investigation Flow Chart (pdf)
  4. Investigation Interview Manual (pdf)
  5. Procedural Fairness Manual (pdf)
  6. Reasonable Management Action Manual (pdf)
  7. Sexual harassment Manual (pdf)
  8. Evidence Manual (pdf)
  9. Template Risk Assessment form (Word doc)
  10. Template investigation plans x 2 (Word doc)
  11. Template letter to the complainant (Word doc)
  12. Template letter to the witnesses (Word doc)
  13. Template initial letter to the respondent (Word doc)
  14. Template letter of allegation to the respondent (Word doc)
  15. Template complainant interview guide/script (Word doc)
  16. Template witness interview guide/script (Word doc)
  17. Template respondent interview guide/script (Word doc)
  18. Sample witness statement (Word doc)
  19. Sample interim report (Word doc)
  20. Sample final investigation report (Word doc)

The word Docs allow you to use the templates and customise them for your investigation. Click here for further details or to purchase for only $795.00

If you don’t wish to purchase the entire toolbox you can purchase the manuals separately – More details

You may be interested in these articles
Drafting allegations – http://awpti.com.au/workplace-investigations-drafting-allegations/
Drafting allegation letters – http://awpti.com.au/workplace-investigation-allegation-letters/
(The templates in the document toolbox can ensure that you get this right)

AWPTI Investigation services – More details

AWPTI can also provide you with Workplace Investigation training – More details

AWPTI – workplace investigation Sydney and through-out NSW, QLD and Victoria. Workplace training national wide
Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations

www.awpti.com.au
http://awpti.com.au/investigations/
http://awpti.com.au/training/