Minimising Sexual Harassment Claims
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the festive season being upon us, it is in an employer’s best interest to ensure that is has a safe and appropriate work environment especially in relation to social work functions. But how can you do that? With Georgiadis Lawyers’ top 10 tips for effective prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace of course!
Georgiadis Lawyers’ Top 10 Tips for Effective Prevention of Sexual Harassment
1. Work Culture
Build a socially accessible workplace, and monitor any irregular workplace culture. A positive work culture where respect for all fellow employees is not only encouraged, but instilled, is vital in preventing sexual harassment.
Have clear policies against sexual harassment in relation to the workplace as well as work-related social events. Review and update these policies periodically to ensure they continue to adhere to the law and to community standards.
3. Reporting and Support
Develop procedures which allow staff to report and management to respond to complaints about harassment and promptly conduct an internal investigation in relation to it. Ensure management is trained to understand their obligations to attend to complaints of sexual harassment and consider appointing an equal opportunity contact person to be available to all staff to provide a supportive environment for any complainants.
Ensure all staff are aware of and adhere to said policies and procedures. Ensure all staff are aware of the legal consequences of inappropriate behaviour.
5. Insurance Policies
Review and update employer insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage.
6. Endorsement of Events
Set specific start and finish times for social events, and ensure after-parties that may follow are not employer-endorsed.
7. Responsible Service of Alcohol
Responsible service of alcohol is key at any employer-endorsed event. Ensure non-alcoholic food and beverages are available to staff, and no alcohol is served to under-age employees.
8. Responsible Management
Management should also set the standard for behaviour. In any event, the employer should designate a responsible person to oversee all employee conduct during social events.
Ensure the venue is close to safe transportation and advise staff not to drive if they intend to drink. Should staff be incapable of driving home after an employee-endorsed event, consideration should be given to providing safe means of transportation, especially if alcohol was provided at the event at the employer’s discretion.
10. Seek Assistance
If needed, request for information and advice from the Australian Human Rights Commission in relation to sexual harassment complaints. A lawyer is also more than willing to assist you with any enquiries in relation to any employment issues.
Through the introduction of comprehensive policies and procedures and encouragement of a culture of open reporting, you, as an employer, can be sure that you are meeting all your obligations, both morally and in terms of the law. Following Georgiadis Lawyers’ Top Ten Tips means that you can sit back and relax at your Christmas party knowing that your Christmas present won’t be a summons to the South Australian Employment Tribunal!
Georgiadis Lawyers are here to help you avoid being that “horrible boss”. Please do not hesitate to contact us should your workplace require advice in relation to policies and procedures and their compliance with work health and safety laws.
Article by Tiffany Leigh