Purpose - Why do we have this policy?
The purpose of this policy is to let you know how we all work together to create a bullying free work environment.
We understand that workplace bullying is a threat to the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and service users. So, we are committed to maintaining a culture of openness, support and accountability.
We have provided a definition below and the processes we should all follow. This policy will help you to understand more about workplace bullying and what you can do to prevent it.
Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.
● teasing or playing practical jokes
● pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
● excluding someone from work-related events
● unreasonable work demands
Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can refer to 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?
Reasonable management action taken by managers or the Board chair to direct and control the way work is carried out is not workplace bullying if the action is carried out in a lawful and reasonable way, taking all circumstances into account.
There are bound to be occasional differences of opinion, conflicts and problems in every workplace. Workplace bullying exists only when the treatment of another person is unreasonable, offensive or harmful.
Reasonable management action includes:
● The direction and control of work responsibilities
● The monitoring of workflow and performance standards
● Giving feedback on performance and requesting changes in behaviour or performance standards.
If an employee displays performance problems, these should be identified and dealt with constructively and with care, with the aim of assisting the team member in improving their performance.
Bullying that directly inflicts physical pain, harm or humiliation amounts to assault, and it should be dealt with as a police matter (see below).
We are committed to creating a safe and healthy workplace free from bullying. Our team members are protected by this policy whether they feel bullied by a supervisor, another worker, volunteer, service user, contractor or member of the public.
We treat reports of workplace bullying seriously. All reported incidences of bullying will be dealt with promptly, thoroughly and fairly.
Complaints will be treated in confidence and where confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, this will be clearly indicated to the complainant.
All parties will be treated with respect.
The person against whom the allegation is made has the right to natural justice (the right to know what it is alleged against them, the right to put their case in reply and the right for any decision to be made by an impartial decision maker).
What this means for you
You can report bullying.
The CEO or Chair must investigate bullying allegations, promptly, fairly and respectfully.
The CEO or Chair will not talk to others about your complaint unless they must. They will tell you if they do have to talk to others about the complaint.
You have the right to reply and be treated fairly if someone alleges that you bullied them.
Every person in our organisation is responsible for creating a bullying free work environment.
It is the responsibility of the Board and the CEO to ensure that:
● They understand and are committed to the right of all employees and volunteers to attend work and perform their duties without fear of being bullied in any form.
● All reasonable steps to eliminate bullying are made.
● All applicable workplace health and safety legislation is observed.
● All employees and volunteers are regularly made aware of their obligations and responsibilities in relation to providing a workplace free from bullying.
● They provide an environment which discourages bullying and set an example by their own behaviour.
● All complaints are treated seriously and confidentially.
● They are as far as practicable aware of whether bullying is occurring whether complaints are received or not, relying on such indices as:
a) Sudden increases in absenteeism
b) Behaviour changes such as depression
c) Sudden deterioration in work performance.
● They take immediate and appropriate corrective action if they become aware of any offensive action.
● Guidance and education is provided, where requested and/or appropriate, to cases and subsequent decisions relating to bullying.
It is the responsibility of all employees and volunteers to ensure that:
● They understand and are committed to the rights and entitlements of all team members to attend work and perform their duties without fear of bullying in any form.
● They provide an environment which discourages bullying.
● They immediately report any offensive action directed at themselves or others.
If the CEO has been accused of bullying the following procedures will be carried out by the Chair of the Board or delegated member.
If you believe you are the subject of bullying you should take firm, positive and prompt action.
If deemed inappropriate, you should make the perceived bully (or bullies) aware that you find their behaviour offensive, unwelcome and unacceptable and that it needs to stop immediately.
If the behaviour continues, or you feel unable to speak to the person(s) directly, you should contact the CEO. The CEO will provide support and ascertain the nature of the complaint and your wishes in relation to the perceived bullying. You don’t have to request a full formal investigation if you would prefer a less formal treatment of the issue.
The CEO will explain your rights and responsibilities under our policy and procedures.
Informal intervention may be done through a process of either mediation or conciliation. During informal intervention the alleged harasser will be made aware of the allegations being made against them and given the right to respond. Interventions at this stage should adopt a confidential, non-confrontational approach with a view to resolving the issue.
This procedure will be complete when the alleged harasser respects your request to cease unwanted and unwelcome behaviour, or when you accept that the behaviour is not properly described as bullying. If neither of these outcomes occurs, the organisation’s formal procedure should be followed.
Formal Complaints Procedure
Proceeding with a formal complaint requires your consent, particularly as witnesses or other staff may become involved. The formal procedure will be coordinated by the CEO, the Board or delegate. Referred to as the formal complaint coordinator.
The formal complaint coordinator should clarify the complaint and obtain a step by step account of the incident. In serious cases, more than one interview may be necessary.
The formal complaint coordinator will document all such interviews accurately and avoid irrelevant information. This record will include parties involved, timing, location and nature of conduct complained against.
Records are to be kept and filed in a confidential and secure place. These records should be kept for a period of seven years. Under no circumstances will records be placed on the complainant’s personnel file.
The formal complaint coordinator will organise an investigation, which in most cases will involve (but is not limited to):
● A private interview to ascertain the facts and to find what the complainant expects to happen because of making the complaint
● An interview with the alleged harasser(s) to ascertain their defence
● Interviews with other employees, volunteers or individuals who may be able to assist
● Examination of any relevant documents.
All relevant evidence should be considered by the person conducting the investigation. Such evidence may include:
● Supporting (or contradictory) evidence provided by medical practitioners, counsellors, family members, friends or co-workers
● CEO’s reports and personnel records
● Records kept by the person claiming to have been bullied
● Information on whether the evidence was presented by the parties in a credible and consistent manner
● Information on the absence of evidence where it should logically exist.
It may be necessary to provide affected employee or volunteer with alternative working arrangements to avoid further conflict while the bullying complaint is being investigated. The complainant may also require counselling to develop coping strategies for dealing with the situation while the problem is being resolved.
The person conducting the investigation should keep all affected parties informed and document all investigation actions and outcomes.
On completion of the investigation, the complainant and the CEO will determine a course of action to be taken.
Choices may include but will not be limited to, any combination of the following:
● Disciplinary action against the bully or bullies (e.g., demotion, suspension, probation or dismissal)
● Official warnings that are noted in the bully or bullies personnel file
● If there is strong evidence that the complaint was vexatious or malicious, disciplinary action against the person who complained
● Formal apologies and undertaking that the behaviour will cease
● Conciliation/mediation conducted by an impartial third party, where the parties to the complaint agree to a mutually acceptable resolution.
Determination of whether bullying has occurred will rest solely on the weight of the evidence. If it is determined that bullying has taken place, then outcomes will depend upon factors such as:
● The severity and frequency of the bullying
● The wishes of the person who was subjected to the offensive behaviours
● Whether the bully could have been expected to know that such behaviour was a breach of policy
● The level on contrition shown by the bully
● Whether there have been any prior incidents or warnings.
The formal complaint coordinator will advise all relevant parties of the outcome.
If the investigation determines that bullying has occurred, or that vexatious or malicious accusations have been made, the formal complaint coordinator must place on file, a summary of the complaint and the action taken. A copy may be placed in the respondent’s personnel file in accordance with performance counselling procedures.
If there is insufficient proof to decide whether bullying has occurred, the formal complaint coordinator will:
● Remind those involved of expected standards of conduct
● Arrange further training awareness raising sessions for staff and volunteers
● Monitor the situation carefully.
The formal complaint coordinator will monitor the outcome to ensure that the offensive behaviour has ceased and that neither party has been victimised. This may involve follow up interviews. If there has been any substantiated victimisation, appropriate disciplinary procedures will be followed.
Procedures for dealing with criminal conduct
Some forms of severe bullying (physical attack, for example, or obscene phone calls) may constitute criminal conduct. While Australian Street Aid Project Ltd. is committed to treat most complaints about bullying at an organisational level as far as possible, this type of conduct is not suited to internal resolution. Such complaints should be treated by the criminal justice system. The CEO should advise staff of the option of police support or intervention. It is not the obligation or duty of the organisation to report matters to the police on behalf of the complainant.
In the event of any conflict or inconsistency of information, the policy statement and details prevail over the “what this means for you” statement.