In 2006, Brodie Panlock, a 19 year old waitress in Victoria tragically took her own life. Later investigation revealed that while at work and afterhours, Brodie was continually bullied by her co-workers and supervisor, including vicious name calling, being spat on and other physical and verbal harassment. In response to her death new Federal workplace health and safety laws were enacted that help employers identify, prevent and respond to workplace bullying. Queensland, too, has amended the Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 (Qld) to comply with federal standards. The following guidelines are a review of the current code:
1. What is Workplace Harassment?
Repeated behaviour by a person (either in person or by phone, email, etc.) that is unwelcome and unsolicited; considered offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening; or that a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
2. As an employer, what are my obligations with regards to Workplace Harassment?
Employers are required to consider and address the risk of workplace harassment just like any other Workplace Health and Safety standard. You can reference the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 or Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice 2004 (Qld) for more information on Workplace Health and Safety standards or alternatively contact Miller Sockhill Lawyers.
3. As an employer, how should I approach Workplace Harassment?
Workplace Harassment should be treated like any other risk to health and safety in the workplace. Identify, assess and eliminate the risk; be knowledgeable on the law, implement and enforce policies and make the policy and the consequences of breaching the policy transparent. Create a culture that does not tolerate workplace harassment and encourage employees to report workplace harassment when they witness or experience it.
Failure to adhere to workplace harassment can not only cause legal problems, but most importantly can have terrible, life-threatening consequences. For more information contact Sunshine Coast based Solicitors – Miller Sockhill Lawyers.