Workplace bullying Online

Workplace Gender Equality Report

If your organisation has 100 or more employees (excludes public sector) then you are required to report annually to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency against the six Gender Equality Indicators (GEIs) including:

  • GEI 1: gender composition of the workforce
  • GEI 2: gender composition of governing bodies of relevant employers
  • GEI 3: equal remuneration between women and men
  • GEI 4: availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees and to working arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities
  • GEI 5: consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace
  • GEI 6: any other matters specified by the Minister in a legislative instrument: Sex-based harassment and discrimination.

This report is due for the previous year’s data between 1st April and 31st May 2015 and is required by law under the Workplace Gender Equality Act (2012).

In addition, if your organisation has 500 or more employees, you must also report against the additional compliance requirements or ‘minimum standards’ for the period 1st October 2014 to 31st March 2015. The additional reporting is required by law under the Workplace Gender Equality (Minimum Standards) Instrument 2014.

For assistance in collecting your data or lodging your report, contact us on 1300 362 226.

For more information on the legislation and reporting requirements refer to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website on www.wgea.gov.au.

What an employer can do?

As a person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBUs) there are a number of simple steps to follow.

Prevention is better than the cure

Prevention is key. It is better to ensure you are hiring the right managers and supervisors and that bullies are excluded from the candidate list and the hiring process altogether.  There are numbers of tools available that can help to assess and select the right prospective candidates and exclude unsuitable candidates.

If your organisation is not currently screening candidates, then you should use the services of a recruitemnt specialist to assist in the screening process. If a bully is hired, then they will often hire other bullies or even worse, those who are attracted to being the victim.

If your organisation already has established screening processes, then you should utilise a more intense process to identify any pockets of bullying in your organisaiton. You can start by conducting surveys of your employees, reviewing current grievance notices, sick leave and OHS incidents.

If you find that your organisation has a bullying culture, you will need to do more than just implementing the right policies, procedures and processes. These records do not provide evidence of an organisation that doesn’t tolerate bullying. You will need a complete shift in workplace culture.

Supporting Culture

There have been a number of public cases where organisations had the appropriate policies and procedures in place but where still found liabile or  open to a legal claim. An example is that of the retail giant, David Jones, involved in a court case for sexual harassment, where it was alleged that there was a culture in the workplace that permitted sexual harassment, despite the policies and procedures, and that the manager was ‘known’ with the organisation for this behaviour.

The subject of workplace culture in the area of corporate compliance cuts across different areas of business, including  competition laws and how they are enforced by the ACCC.

If you have a bully in your organisation, and the policies and procedures are not followed, then you are still at risk.

Supporting Documents and Processes

 Have a documented policy

PCBUs should create a Code of Acceptable Behaviour, that incorporates the Bullying Policy along with as other polices such as the Anti-Discrimination Policy.

The policy should be negotiated and you should consider consultation with:

  • Health and Safely Committees
  • Unions and/or Workers
  • Managers

The policy should cover:

  • a statement of commitment against bullying
  • the responsibilities of the Board  and CEO, supervisors and managers and employees
  • examples of unacceptable behaviour and information about what is not “bullying”
  • steps to be taken to prevent bullying in the organisation or at a workplace
  • steps (or the location of the procedure) for investigative, grievance and disciplinary steps, and the timetable for subsequent actions
  • steps for employee assistance, including:
    • confidentiality of complaints
    • protection of complainants from victimisation
    • provision of counselling.
  • potential consequences for the bully, such as:
    • a caution
    • disciplinary action
    • termination.

Train your staff on the policy

Train your staff on the policy
The following are some actions which you may like to consider either as standalone activities or in combination with your approach on other workplace issues like harassment and discrimination:

  • Providing leaflets, feature articles and posters
  • Providing awareness and skills training
  • Organising meetings to discuss the bullying, perhaps with an invited speaker
  • Conducting a survey of the incidence of bullying

Ensure managers promote the policy

Genuinely promoting the policy includes both actions as well as words. Given the traditional difference in power between managers and employees, it is important that when an employee needs to raise the issue of the conduct of a manager, that there is support to ensure that the whole issue is discussed in a mature and balanced manner.

Managers play a key role in:

  • modelling the expected appropriate behaviour
  • responding to and managing claims in accordance with the policy
  • cooperating in accordance with the policy (where the claim is about their behaviour).

Enable people to work through instances of bullying

Those people who have exhibited the bullying behaviour,  should be given the opportunity to learn appropriate behaviour through access by counselling and education. Simply moving the person to a new department or team is not a solution and may mean they can continue their inappropriate behaviour.

Those people who have been affected by the bullying behaviour, should be given support during the complaint process and after, with access to counselling and education. Simply moving the person affected to a new department or team could be viewed as ‘punishment’ for making the complaint.

Regularly review the policy (and any process) to make sure it works

Circumstances change and expected appropriate behaviour needs to be continuously updated to keep pace with society’s expectations.  Changes to laws tend to come more slowly.  If you have doubts about what is appropriate seek advice.

What if it goes wrong?
There is always the risk that someone will be unhappy and the conflict cannot be resolved.  In all cases you will need to comply with your policy and when in doubt seek professional advice.

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