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Workplace bullying workplace harassment – Why has this research been done?

  • To better understand the prevalence of workplace bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces and to identify workplace risk factors associated with the occurrence of bullying and harassment.

What did we find?

  • Bullying was measured using both a widely accepted international definition and the Australian definition used by Safe Work Australia. The prevalence rates using the international and the Australian definitions were similar: 9.7 per cent and 9.4 per cent of Australian workers respectively reported they had been bullied in the last six months.
  • Of the seven types of harassment measured, the most common form of harassment experienced by Australian workers was reported as being sworn at or yelled at (37 per cent), followed by being humiliated in front of others (24 per cent).

What do the findings suggest?

  • Self-reported bullying is common in Australian workplaces and is associated with poor psychological health. Psychosocial Safety Climate (PSC) and psychosocial factors such as job demands, job control and job resources are also related to the occurrence of bullying and harassment.

You can download a copy of the report into Workplace bullying workplace harassment in pdf format – bullying-and-harassment-in-australian-workplaces-australian-workplace-barometer-results

Workplace bullying workplace harassment – Originally published at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/bullying-and-harassment-australian-workplaces-results-australian-workplace-barometer-201415

A word doc version of the report can be downloaded from the link above.

An understanding Workplace bullying workplace harassment is vitally important for all organisations, failure to take action to prevent or respond can be costly and could constitute a breach of your duty of care. Australian Workplace Training & Investigation can assist with training and investigation of Workplace bullying workplace harassment issues. Please contact us or 029674 4279 or enquiries@awpti.com.au

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/

Why is Reasonable Management Action training important?

Complaints against managers by employees are often as a result of the employee claiming that they were bullied and/or harassed by their manager.

In general, such complaints are either as a result of;

  1. Actual bullying and harassment
  2. Management action involving performance management or feedback
  3. Other forms of management action or supervision.

Complaints against managers for sexual harassment, discrimination or other forms of misconduct are generally more specifically related to an incident or series of incidents or behaviours.

To assist managers and HR professionals we have created the Reasonable Management Action manual that is concise and easy to absorb as we realise that managers and HR professional do not have all day to read long winded publications.

The manual is not a theoretical publication but rather a guide to be used when dealing with employees and conducting of performance management. For more details or to order – http://awpti.com.au/reasonable-management-action-manual/

As the understanding of Reasonable Management Action is such a critical area for managers and HR professionals, AWPTI offers options in addition to this manual.

Face to Face Training with AWPTI Principal Phil O’Brien – The Management Essentials program is designed to assist managers to deal with employment related issues. It comprises of three sections;

  1. Reasonable Management Action,
  2. Performance Management,
  3. Dealing with Misconduct and Employee Complaint Handling for Managers

This training is recommended for all managers/team leaders/supervisors to help minimise costly and time-consuming complaints against managers – more details http://awpti.com.au/management-training/ – price on application.

Phil has delivered this training session to a large number of corporate, State and Federal government clients.

The benefit of the face to face training is that participants are expertly guided through the learning materials and also get to hear the war stories and ask questions of a highly experienced workplace investigator.

DIY training

It may be the case that you wish to deliver the training yourself but don’t want or can’t find a suitable online package.

We have clients who are based all over Australia and it is more economical for them to purchase the Management Essential Training package and deliver it themselves.

The package includes

  • A comprehensive participant workbook (over 125 pages)
  • A companion trainer workbook with additional notes, including notes on all the case studies
  • A PowerPoint presentation covering the material in the workbook
  • Regular updates to the workbook, as we update cases in Courts and tribunals as they happen

Details of the package and how to order are here – http://awpti.com.au/management-training/

For more details on workplace misconduct including bullying harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination please refer to the AWPTI Workplace Misconduct Manual – http://awpti.com.au/workplace-misconduct-manual/

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 Document Toolbox 

As an employer or business owner if you are confronted by workplace misconduct you must decide do it yourself or call in an expert. There are a number of reasons for making a decision to do it yourself but often the cost is a major factor, this is where the AWPTI Workplace Investigation document toolbox can assist you at the fraction of the cost of an external investigator.

Using easy-to-follow plain English advice, our DIY investigation toolbox will enable you to conduct a stress-free workplace investigation.  Helpful documents such as our uniquely tailored interview scripts take the hard work out of interviewing complainants, witnesses and the alleged wrongdoers.

The Australian Workplace Training and Investigation toolbox contains full documentation and far more than is offered anywhere else including a full set of workplace instructions, an interview manual, letters, interview scripts and sample investigation reports.

The Workplace Document Investigation toolbox will:

  • Guide you through the entire investigation – from the outset to conclusion
  • Assist you to prepare an investigation plan and draft interview plans
  • Guide you through the process of interviewing with the interview manual and scripts
  • Reduce the fear of being sued by aggrieved employees as a result of a poorly conducted investigation
  • Explain procedural fairness, the rules of evidence, conflict of interest and bias.
  • Tell you the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of workplace investigations

The comprehensive workplace investigation document toolbox contains 35 documents and an Investigation Interview Manual:

  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. Template Risk Assessment form (Word doc)
  6. Template investigation plans x 2 (Word doc)
  7. Template letter to the complainant (Word doc)
  8. Template letter to the witnesses (Word doc)
  9. Template initial letter to the respondent (Word doc)
  10. Template letter of allegation to the respondent (Word doc)
  11. Template complainant interview guide/script (Word doc)
  12. Template witness interview guide/script (Word doc)
  13. Template respondent interview guide/script (Word doc)
  14. Sample witness statement (Word doc)
  15. Sample interim report (Word doc)
  16. Sample final investigation report (Word doc)

For more details and to order the investigation Toolbox check out – http://awpti.com.au/investigation-toolbox/

For your security we only use PayPal for purchases, no personal information is stored on this site. You do not need a PayPal account, you can pay via a credit or debit card using PayPal.

We have a number of other investigation products and training programs coming online soon.

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/

 

Bullying laws

Bullying laws cover company boards after landmark decision – Board directors and chairpersons will be able to seek anti-bullying orders against each other following a landmark ruling from the Fair Work Commission that opens up workplace bullying laws to senior levels.

Lawyers expect the decision will lead to similar, senior-level claims and warn they could prove a distraction to the daily business of company boards.

The case concerned the governing board of South Australia’s remote Aboriginal lands, Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Inc, and its chairperson Trevor Adamson’s claims of bullying against general manager Richard King and deputy chairperson Bernard Singer.

Mr Adamson claimed the pair were refusing to deal with him, “disrespecting his wishes”, “orchestrating” events to prevent quorums, stopping him from accessing minutes and defaming him.

Mr King and Mr Singer strongly rejected the allegations and called for Mr Adamson’s claim to be thrown out, arguing he was not a “worker” covered by the Fair Work Act’s anti-bullying jurisdiction.

But commissioner Peter Hampton said the act adopted a “very wide approach” to the definition of worker in that all that was needed was “the undertaking of work for a person conducting a business or undertaking”.

“Further, a broad approach to the definition recognises that workplace health and safety hazards and risks do not discriminate based on legal relationships or whether a person is paid.”

He found Mr Adamson’s activities and duties as a chairperson represented “work” for APY Inc, supported by the fact that he was paid significant additional remuneration in the role.

“Mr Adamson may not be considered to be a ‘worker’ in the traditional sense of the difference between a manager/employer and a worker,” he said. “However, the context in which the expression is used here is different.”

Despite this, the commissioner dismissed Mr Adamson’s application given he had not been re-elected chairperson since and so was not at “future risk” of being bullied at work

Ashurst employment partner Vince Rogers said the decision was the first to find company directors were covered by the bullying jurisdiction and the commission’s “broad view” would allow for claims at “peer level” but also “up or down” between board members and executives.

In particular, he said claims could be “quite rife” in not-for-profit organisations where board members had different points of view on issues important to them.

“You can see it being used as a vehicle for where disputes arise or an impasse has been reached at board level,” he said. “Time will tell how far [the commission] wants to intervene.”

He said such cases would require senior board members to “respond substantially”, and noted the APY case went on for several days, which would “surely have been a distraction” to those managing the organisation.

“Certainly, because of this decision, I expect a lot of other cases to engage in the area. Definitely watch this space.”

If you require assistance with training in regard to Anti Bullying or other workplace issues please contact us – http://awpti.com.au/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/

 

 

 

Workplace Investigation Questions

Workplace Investigation Questions and the question of what and how to ask questions during an interview.

The interview is typically a means to gather evidence, to clarify points made in a complaint, to find out what people saw, heard or experienced and also an opportunity for the person who is the subject of the complaint to provide their side of the story.

There are two key elements to the actual interview that are of paramount importance – asking questions and listening to the answers.

It is important that investigators ask question that are legally complainant and get the best answers from the interviewee.  Here are some suggestions

Types of questions

  • Open questions – that encourage free recall
    • “Sarah had alleged that you swore at her during the meeting on the 10th, would you care to comment about that?”
    • “Can you tell me about the meeting on the 10th?”
    • “I would like to ask you about the meeting on the 10th, can you tell me what happened?”
  • Closed questions – usually get a Yes or No answer.
    • Did you swear at Sarah during the meeting on the 10th?”
  • Leading questions – direct the interviewee toward an answer and should be avoided. Leading questions may be classed as inadmissible if the matter goes to court
    • “You swore at Sarah during the meeting on the 10th, didn’t you?”
  • Suggestive questions – suggest to the interviewee what the answer should be, this should be avoided.
    • “It sounds like you are telling me is that you swore at Sarah during the meeting on the 10th, am I right?”
  • Multiple questions – only tend to confuse the interviewee
    • “Were you at the meeting on the 10th, was Sarah there and did you swear at her?”
  • Repetitive questions – will tend to annoy or frustrate an interviewee, if you need to repeat a question re-frame it.
    • Can you tell me what you said to Sarah at the meeting on the 10th?”
  • Negative Questions – are used when the person who asks expects a positive answer, this can agitate an interviewee and they can claim that you are putting words in their mouth hey may also show a biased attitude
    • “Shouldn’t you have treated Sarah with more respect?”
  • Statements or opinions – have no place in an interview. Your opinion is not relevant during an interview and making statements may damage the rapport you have established with the interviewee, they may also show a biased attitude
    • “I think that you did swear at Sarah, you should tell me the truth.”

A good interviewer will use a combination of open and closed questions, re-framed where necessary.

Lead with open questions, clarify with closed questions

Listening

During an interview it is important to listen to the answers provided by the interviewee.

Focus on the answers provided by the interviewee and not your next question.

Take notes during the interview;

  • Comments/information to follow up on.
  • Outstanding information.
  • Inconsistencies

As a general rule of thumb a recorded interview should be 80% the interviewee talking and 20% the interviewer.

Supportive comments

 Especially when the interview is being recorded, be very careful not to use affirming comments in the case for example “yes” or “I agree” or “yes that’s terrible” or “I understand”

Comment such as these can imply a bias on behalf of the interviewer.

 

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/

 

Workplace Investigation Procedural Fairness

Workplace Investigation Procedural Fairness – Decisions at the Fair Work Commission where a lack of procedural fairness has proved is costly once again

Two cases before the Fair Work Commission once again highlight that organisations are still having dismissal found as unfair due to a failure to afford an employee procedural fairness

In Schneider v Eliana Construction and Developing Group P/L [2016] FWC 5748  23 August 2016, the applicant Mr Schneider was employed as finance manager; he was dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct. The respondent claimed actions of applicant in submitting BASS statements without Director’s approval caused significant harm to company.

The Commission found that there was no valid reason for dismissal, that the applicant was not put on notice that employment at risk concerning either conduct or performance, he received no written or verbal warnings made and that there was an absence of procedural fairness. It was held that the dismissal unfair and compensation of $16,816 was ordered.

In Moore v Specialist Diagnostic Services P/L t/a Dorevitch Pathology [2016] FWC 5910 23 August 2016, the applicant Ms Moore was employed from July 2003 until April 2016 as pathology collector and promoted to collections co-ordinator. According to a termination letter she was dismissed for failing to follow reasonable directions

The commission found that the applicant not given clear and unambiguous opportunity to respond to reasons for dismissal and that the respondent’s decision maker not given all information to make decision.

In finding that there was no valid reason for dismissal, that the dismissal harsh, unjust and unreasonable and that the applicant was unfairly dismissed the Commission found there was lack of procedural fairness and uncertainty regarding respondent’s reasons for dismissal compensation of $27,900 was ordered.

The lesson for employers

If termination is being contemplated as an option, employers should consider an investigation to establish the full facts of the matter and provide the employee with the opportunity to respond in a timely manner.

The author Phil O’Brien is a highly experienced and skilled workplace investigator and trainer who can take the stress out of conducting workplace investigations into bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and other forms of misconduct.

You can contact me on 02 9674 4279 or phil@awpti.com.au

This is general information only. It does not replace advice from a qualified workplace investigator in your state or territory.  It is recommended that should you encounter complaints in the workplace that you seek advice from suitability qualified and experienced workplace investigators.

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/

 

Investigating bullying

Investigating bullying – Why you should conduct a thorough and systematic investigation

An example of where a lack of investigation case was costly

 Investigating complaints made by employees in a thorough, professional and timely manner is a part of an employer’s duty of care and when considering the termination of an employee may form an important part of the process.

The case of Harley v Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd [2010] FWA 62 illustrates an example of an unfair dismissal and the consequences of a lack of a proper investigation

The applicant Mr Harley was employed as a Business Development Executive at Aristocrat Technologies Pty Ltd (Aristocrat).

He had resigned after receiving a show cause letter from Aristocrat who claimed that he was under performing on sales targets and that there had been complaints about him from customers.

The applicant brought an unfair dismissal claim, claiming that he had been forced to resign as a result of a course of bullying and harassment engaged in by Aristocrat’s State Manager.

Commissioner Deegan agreed that the applicant had been constructively dismissed and that the dismissal was unfair.

He found that he had performed as well, or better, than most of the other business development executives during a difficult financial period and that he had been treated badly by the State Manager.

Significantly, he was highly critical of Aristocrat for failing to respond to the applicant’s harassment claims made against the State manager prior to his dismissal. He found that the human resources manager was “either uninterested in investigating the complaints properly or had no idea how to conduct such an investigation”.

The applicant was awarded 6 months’ salary in lieu of reinstatement.

This case is a strong reminder to HR professionals and managers to deal with employee complaints seriously and to conduct thorough investigations into complaints.

Link to case here http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FWA/2010/62.html

The author Phil O’Brien is a highly experienced and skilled workplace investigator and trainer who can take the stress out of conducting workplace investigations into bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and other forms of misconduct.

You can contact me on 02 9674 4279 or phil@awpti.com.au

This is general information only. It does not replace advice from a qualified workplace investigator in your state or territory.  It is recommended that should you encounter complaints in the workplace that you seek advice from suitability qualified and experienced workplace investigators.

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/

Workplace Bullying Myth Busting

Workplace Bullying Myth Busting – Instances of bullying in the workplace are an issue for many employers at some point especially if not managed correctly it can be very costly.  However a lot of the advice and suggestions for dealing with bullying while well-meaning simply do not work.

Let’s have a look at some of the common myths

Myth: You can eliminate bullying in the workplace.

Fact: Bullying is a human behaviour from the playground to the workplace bullies exist.  Is it unrealistic to believe bullying in a workplace can be completely eliminated but there are things you can do, some are effective, some are not.

What employers must ensure that they do is take ‘reasonable steps’ to stop or prevent bullying.

Myth: Having well written policies will stop workplace bullying.

Fact: Bullies ignore bullying policies, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be a bully.

The well written policy helps to protect the employer should an alleged bullied employee make a negligence claim with regard to a breach of duty to maintain a safe workplace.

A well written policy is part of the ‘taking all reasonable steps’ defence and one of the first questions asked in a court of commission is “can you produce your bullying or workplace behaviour policy”

Not having a policy is a huge mistake, but a policy is not the be all and end all of an employer’s responsibility.

Myth: Conducting regular reviews on any anti-bullying related policies will help.

Fact: See above and again useful when arguing the ‘taking all reasonable steps’defence.

Myth: Communicate anti-bullying policies to all employees to emphasise that compliance is required.

Fact: That works well for those who are not bullies but again is ignored by the bullies.

Of course it does add to the ‘taking all reasonable steps’ defence when an employer is asked, “what have you done?”

Myth: Providing information and training to all employees about bullying will reduce bullying

Fact: That’s bit like saying publicising speed limits will reduce speeding when we all know that a speed camera or marked Highway Patrol car reduces speeding.

While this information and training may be ignored by the bullies it is a good opportunity to clearly define bullying and what is unacceptable conduct.

This works best if you are very clear about the repercussions for those who bully.

Make sure that there is accountability of attendance in the case of face to face training (my preferred method) or completion if it is online.

If a complaint is made having evidence that the bully attended training is very useful when it comes to taking disciplinary action and of course it also add to the ‘taking all reasonable steps’ defence.

So far most of the suggestions that I have seen may help to cover the employer but actually have little effect of the prevalence of bullying in the workplace.

 Myth:  Having a policy that states something like “in the first instance speak to the person bullying you and tell them how they are making you feel”.

Fact: Really, come on, not going to happen.

What you need is;

  • A trusted HR department or person that employees being bullied can come to and discuss the situation, seek help and get it
  • A trusted mechanism through which employees are able to make a complaint and know that action will be taken
  • An effective method of dealing with and investigating complaints
  • Trained HR professionals who can undertake a timely and efficient investigation or
  • A professional workplace investigator on speed dial (My number is below)

Myth:  The bully’s often aggressive persona and attitude makes them hard to deal with when trying to investigate complaints.

 Fact: Workplace bullies like the feeling of power and will often try to ‘Lord it over’and intimidate HR professionals.

In many cases I have been told by HR managers who have engaged me to conduct investigations that the perpetrator will be aggressive and difficult to deal with.  It’s funny how when I interview them in a formal manner they are often the opposite, often nervous, compliant and timid when they are out of their comfort zone and not able to flex their bullying muscles.

When bullies know that an employer is going to deal with them in a professional and formal manner the word gets out that bullying will not be tolerated and bullies will be dealt with.

Many workplace investigators are former police officers and are used to dealing with difficult people and they are not easily intimidated.

We refer to workplace investigations as the dark side of HR, as a manager or HR professional if you don’t want to walk on the dark side, call in an expert and save yourself the stress and know that we get it right the first time.

Workplace bullying myth busting

The author Phil O’Brien is a highly experienced and skilled workplace investigator and trainer who can take the stress out of conducting workplace investigations into bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and other forms of misconduct.

You can contact me on 02 9674 4279 or phil@awpti.com.au

This is general information only. It does not replace advice from a qualified workplace investigator in your state or territory.  It is recommended that should you encounter complaints in the workplace that you seek advice from suitability qualified and experienced workplace investigators.

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/