Blurring the Lines at Work! Sexual Harassment or not?
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is unwelcome or uninvited behaviour or innuendo of a sexual nature that is likely to make a person or a group of people feel offended, intimidated or humiliated where the reaction of the recipient or witnesses is reasonable in the circumstances.
Workplace and work related behaviour that qualifies as Sexual Harassment can be oral, written, visual or physical and may include but not be limited to:
- unwelcome email, voice mail and text messages of a sexual nature;
- sexually explicit jokes, banter or innuendo;
- viewing, downloading, or printing pornography;
- telephone, computer or physical stalking;
- displays of sexually explicit or pornographic pictures or objects;
- public masturbation, indecent exposure, sexual assault or rape;
- sexual comments, questions or insinuations about a person’s private life;
- inappropriate comments about a person’s physical appearance;
- lewd facial expressions, actions or gestures;
- excessive attention or persistent requests for social contact;
- requests for sexual favours or sexual intercourse; or
- unwelcome physical contact or intimacy.
What is the legal duty of a Business Owner & a Manager?
1 It is the duty of a supervisor to perform two essential functions:
prevent sexual harassment and to manage sexual harassment issues, including complaints.
2 A business owner, manager or supervisor has a legal responsibility to eradicate sexual harassment and must take all reasonable steps ensure that any sexual harassment issues are managed in a fair and prompt manner, ensuring confidentiality to all parties.
What are the Responsibility of a Business Owner & all Managers?
1 As a supervisor or manager it is essential that you position yourself as a ‘good role model’. It’s your job to ensure that everyone you’re responsible for has a copy of your sexual harassment policy, and that they fully understand its content.
This may require translation of written material into languages other than English or the provision of materials in alternative formats appropriate for hearing or vision impaired employees.
2 You will need to create a positive open environment where employees feel comfortable about raising issues without the fear of retaliation or victimisation.
3 As a supervisor you must constantly monitor workplace behaviour and personally address any issues of concern, irrespective of whether a formal complaint of sexual harassment has been made or not.
4 It’s important that everyone is clear about the consequences of any form of sexual harassment. It’s illegal – and you must ensure that disciplinary action is taken in proven cases.
5 Counselling, written warnings and dismissal are realistic disciplinary outcomes. Remember you are legally responsible for your own behaviour and the behaviour of employees who report to you, including inheriting a vicarious liability for other contractors and visitors on site. You are responsible for ensuring they do not harass any of your your employees and that your employees do not harass them!
6 Where do I get help about Sexual Harassment Training for my Employees?
There are two simple ways to get immediate help.
1 If you have sufficient inhouse training resources, go to Lion Global HR at http://www.lionglobalhr.com.au/ and purchase the Sexual Harassment DVD and associated training materials. If you let Marlene know you saw the advertisement in the Staff Management magazine or write StaffManFan when you order, she will personally make sure you get 10% off the full price of the materials.
2 If you’d prefer, contact Heather at Staff Management and she or one of her team can provide your team with a two-three hour workshop about what constitutes sexual harassment, its impact on morale and how employees can lodge a complaint and what the employer must do in response.
Staff Management has a team of enthusiastic trainers wanting to present a fun, short, practical workshop!
Ring us on 1300 366 229 at any time to find out how we can help you develop a Sexual Harassment Awareness Policy & Procedure you need. This is one policy you should have!