Sexual Harassment and Misconduct at Work

January 17, 2018

Workplace conduct issues can result in litigation, productivity loss, morale and reputational impact. Given the recent sexual harassment allegations capturing the headlines, such as in Hollywood, it’s a good time to review and assure your workplace conduct policies, training and practices. When an employee complains that he or she is experiencing sexual harassment of any type, the employer has a legal and ethical obligation to investigate the allegations.

Centium provides training and solutions for organisation by handling complaints or concerns about employee conduct, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, diversity and inclusion, workplace violence, ethics, theft, fraud or drugs. Resolutions in the workplace will save thousands of dollars in legal defence costs and unproductive time.

Below is a list of key components organisations should have in place to manage risks associated with employee conduct issues.

Code of Conduct and Sexual Harassment Policy

The Code and policy should be well-communication to employees with regular reminders. The policy should contain a clear and detailed description of what types of behaviours are prohibited. All employees should be reminded about the organisation’s policy relative to sexual harassment that it won’t be tolerated and that any complaints will be investigated. It should also include provisions specifying that no retaliation will occur against employees who make complaints.

Phone hotline or anonymous email service

Organisations should have a process for employees to report workplace issues. A phone or email hotline allows employees a way to confidentially report issues and provides documentation of reporting for the employer. Such a hotline should be available 24/7/365. The reporting systems should alert appropriate individuals within the organisation so an investigation can commence and an appropriate resolution determined. Centium is able to manage such an anonymous service so that the organisation remains independent and at arms length.

HR advice and expertise

Personnel often incurs the largest component of risk for many organisations. All organisations should have ready access to a knowledgable source for HR advice when they have a question, concern or require guidance in handling these sensitive issues. Centium provides such a service to its clients.

Workplace conduct training

Training should be designed for educating both employees and management. Training should clearly state that this is a workplace where harassment will not be tolerated. Training should cover acceptable and unacceptable conduct, lawful and unlawful behaviour, describe what constitutes harassment, how it happens, and who it can happen to. The training should reinforce the organisation’s Code and policies relating to these issues, reporting methods, methods for handling issues, investigation and resolution systems. Centium provides both face to face and online training.

Employment screening

Dishonest staff can cost an organisation time and money, not to mention negative publicity and reputational damage. There are a variety of background check reports available in a quick 24- to 48-hour turn-around. Undertaking background screening checks ensures a number of benefits including lower hiring costs, reduced turnover, protection of an organisation’s assets and a layer of protection against theft, violence, harassment and lawsuits stemming from negligent hiring and retention.

Local Government Model Code of Conduct

If you are a Council, you should know that the Office of Local Government is about to release its new, updated Model Code. We have previously written about the likely changes between the new and current version. Now is a good time to review your existing Code, policies, processes and training capabilities.

Action

All organisations should review their current processes and reinforce their efforts to eliminate or address such issues in their workplace. Have a chat with one of our Senior Partners, Practice Leads or Principal Consultants if you would like any further information.

 

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