Why your business needs a bullying and harassment policy

Employees in Australia have a legal right to work in a workplace free from bullying, discrimination and harassment, yet businesses continue to handle claims and complaints of this nature. This behaviour is not only harmful to the person being bullied, but also to your business, its reputation and its culture. Ultimately, as an employer, it is your responsibility to protect all employees in your business and to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable whilst at work.

What should a bullying and harassment policy aim to achieve?

Ultimately, the main objective of a bullying and harassment policy is to state that the workplace has a zero tolerance of bullying and harassment. It demonstrates that the workplace is committed to providing a safe, flexible and respectful environment for all staff and clients free from all forms of discrimination, bullying and harassment. A bullying and harassment policy outlines that all staff are required to treat others with dignity, courtesy and respect. It is also important that the policy outlines what types of behaviour would cause a breach of the policy and the associated consequences.

Why are they important?

Like all workplace policies, a bullying and harassment policy is crucial in effectively implementing rules and regulations to better manage the workplace.

As an employer, you may be held legally responsible for any bullying and harassment that has occurred in the workplace. This could lead to legal action causing significant implications for your business both financially and reputationally.

A bullying and harassment policy provides both employees and employers with some guidance around effectively managing and dealing with instances of bullying and harassment in the workplace. It sets out the workplace’s zero tolerance for bullying and harassment, ensuring that staff feel a sense of comfort and safety.

What does this mean for your workplace?

Courts are taking a strict approach with workplaces that fail to remedy or attempt to remedy any workplace bullying behaviour. By not implementing a bullying and harassment policy into your workplace, you could be seen as failing to provide a safe workplace and failing to take all necessary steps to prevent bullying and harassment from occurring. Too many times we see workplaces that do not have adequate policies and procedures in place, exposing the workplace to significant risk. Without a policy in place, it is difficult for workplaces to manage instances of bullying and harassment.

We strongly recommend that all workplaces implement a bullying and harassment policy.

How we can help

Sinclair + May has extensive experience assisting workplaces to ensure that their policies and procedures are legally compliant and relevant to the operational requirements of the business. We understand the importance of up-to-date policies not only as a risk management strategy but also as a way of ensuring that your staff feel comfortable in their place of work.

If you do not have a bullying and harassment policy or if you feel that your current policy requires updating, please contact us on 03 9111 5660 and we would be happy to assist.

This is general advice only. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. 

Published Oct 27, 2018

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