Welcome to the October edition of the Monthly Focus. Please find below the key areas we hope to help you understand.
This Month’s Focus
This month’s focus is on the following areas:
- Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity
- Social Media
New Features Added to CIRT
A new feature has been released for CIRT this month which allows managers to add their own users.
There is now no need to use the request online access request form. Time efficiency has been achieved by allowing you to add your own user rather than request CHD Partners to complete this task for you.
A new tab has been added next to the training tab at the top of the page if you have Create User Account security access.
Simply click on the “Administration” tab and then select “Create User Account.”
Fill in the required fields then click on the “Create Account” to proceed.
Manager User Accounts
The Manage User Accounts function has also been released under the same drop-down tab.
The Manager User function allows you to change details, team, supervisor, role and turn off access.
Workplace bullying is a risk to health and safety because it may affect the mental and physical health of workers. Failure to take steps to manage the risk of workplace bullying can result in a breach of Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.
Everyone at the workplace has a work health and safety duty and can help to prevent workplace bullying. Under WHS laws, while at work, workers must take reasonable care that their behaviour does not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.
Workers must also comply, so far as is reasonably practicable, with any reasonable instruction given by the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) and co-operate with reasonable policies and procedures of the PCBU that the worker has been notified of, such as a workplace bullying policy.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying can adversely affect the psychological and physical health of a person.
Workplace bullying is a psychological hazard that has the potential to harm a person, and it also creates a psychological risk as there is a possibility that a person may be harmed if exposed to it. If effective control measures are put in place to address and resolve workplace issues early, a workplace can minimise the risk of workplace bullying and prevent it from becoming acceptable behaviour in the workplace.
Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.
Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.
Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
What is not workplace bullying?
A single incident of unreasonable behaviour is not workplace bullying however, it may be repeated or escalate and so should not be ignored.
Reasonable Management Action Taken in A Reasonable Way
It is reasonable for managers and supervisors to allocate work and give feedback on a worker’s performance. These actions are not considered to be workplace bullying if they are carried out in a lawful and reasonable way, taking the particular circumstance into account.
A manager exercising their legitimate authority at work may result in some discomfort for a worker. The question of whether management action is conducted in a reasonable way is determined by considering the actual management action rather than a worker’s perception of it, and where management action involves a significant departure from established policies or procedures, whether the departure was reasonable in the circumstances.
What is reasonable would be determined by an objective test through a court of law. However, a court could consider the following examples as reasonable management action:
- setting realistic and achievable performance goals, standards and deadlines
- fair and appropriate rostering and allocation of working hours
- transferring a worker to another area or role for operational reasons
- deciding not to select a worker for a promotion where a fair and transparent process is followed
- informing a worker about unsatisfactory work performance in an honest, fair and constructive way
- informing a worker about unreasonable behaviour in an objective and confidential way
- implementing organisational change or restructuring, and
- taking disciplinary action including suspension or termination of employment where appropriate or justified in the circumstances.
Develop productive and respectful workplace relationships
Good management practices and effective communication are important in creating a workplace environment that discourages workplace bullying. Examples include:
- promote positive leadership styles by providing training for managers and supervisors
- mentor and support new and poor performing managers and workers
- facilitate teamwork, consultation and co-operation
- ensure that reasonable management actions are clearly defined, articulated and understood by workers and supervisors, and
- ensure supervisors act in a timely manner on unreasonable behaviour they see or become aware of.
Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity
Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. This includes bullying someone because of a protected characteristic.
The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 protects people from discrimination and harassment in areas of public life such as workplaces, schools, clubs, shops or places that provide services.
Types of discrimination
You can be discriminated against directly or indirectly. In NSW it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a personal characteristic that you have, or someone assumes that you have. These personal characteristics are things like age, race, disability, physical features and political beliefs.
It is also against the law to sexually harass or victimise someone, or to vilify someone because of their race or religion.
Direct discrimination happens when someone is treated unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. Direct discrimination often happens because people make unfair assumptions about what people with certain personal characteristics can and cannot do.
For example, George applies for a position with a construction company but doesn’t get the job.
When he calls the company’s human resources manager to ask why he wasn’t chosen, she tells George: “We’ve employed people from your country before. You lot don’t share our work ethic.”
Indirect discrimination occurs when an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed that disadvantages a person or group because of a personal characteristic.
Discriminatory behaviours and actions that affect a person or group with certain personal characteristics can become entrenched in an organisation or community. These behaviours often become part of organisation’s culture and are reinforced by policies or procedures. If an organisation has a lot of complaints about the same or similar issues, it might be because of entrenched discrimination, also known as systemic discrimination.
For example, a factory makes all employees start at 6am. This might seem to treat everyone equally, but it could disadvantage employees needing to care for children, who are usually women. If it is not a reasonable requirement, this will be indirect discrimination.
Social media is online media that is used for social interaction. It includes popular sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs and forums. Bullying, discrimination and harassment can be just as harmful when they occur online as when they occur in your physical workplace. You must take all allegations of social media abuse seriously and treat them the same as you would any other allegation.
When social media misuse becomes a Workplace Health and Safety issue
Social media misuse becomes a health and safety issue when it leads to:
- cyber bullying
- sexual harassment
- inattention/inadvertence leading to accidents at work
Work-related cyber bullying can occur via social media when:
- workers post critical or abusive comments on social media about their co-workers;
- a co-worker is deliberately excluded from a social media
- group; or
- workers post photos on social media to humiliate or degrade a co-worker.
Sexual harassment via social media could involve one or more of the following things:
- sending a person images or words of a sexual nature;
- unwelcome remarks with sexual connotations;
- unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favours, or
- any other unwelcome gesture, action or comment of a sexual nature.
Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature occurring on social media is likely to be sexual harassment. However, consensual conduct will not be considered sexual harassment.
Disciplining workers for misusing social media
You should consider taking disciplinary action against a worker if the worker publishes comments, photos or material on social media that:
- identifies and discriminates against, bullies or harasses a co-worker;
- is critical of your company; or
- is offensive and identifies your business.
Offensive content could be anything that bullies, harasses or discriminates against another person, whether they work for your business or not.
Important: Before you can discipline a worker for misusing social media, you must have a social media policy in place, and your workers must be aware of and fully trained in the policy.
This Month’s Tasks
This month is simply three documents:
- Anti Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy POL_0010
- Social Media POL_0003
- Workplace Bullying Policy POL_0021
All staff need to do is complete the following steps just like doing the induction.
Consultation and Toolbox Talk
Supervisors are tasked with completing the following toolbox which is in consultation and toolboxes and in your Action: Managers Tasks
Each month we would like to encourage our customers to give us feedback on our service or CIRT.
We have now added a customer survey on bottom of the Compliance home front page.
Feel free to comment.
“Have a great month and stay safe”