Respect and Dignity in the Workplace

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1 Respect and Dignity in the Workplace What is Respect in the Workplace? We define Respect as Respect of self and of others. Respect includes: respect for the environment; respect for other people's privacy, their physical space and belongings; and respect for different viewpoints, philosophies, religion, gender, lifestyle, ethnic origin, physical ability, beliefs and personality. It's everyone's responsibility The most productive environment is that where employees are valued and treated with dignity and respect and where there is no unethical behaviour. Ethical behaviour encompasses the concepts of honesty, integrity, probity, diligence, fairness, trust, respect and consistency. Nobody should be forced to listen to bad language or insults or be belittled, alone or in front of others in any way. A boss who constantly criticises our work, using very negative and derogatory words about everything we do. Should we respect him/her because they are "the boss"? This is not a healthy situation by any means. First, we must remember that we deserve to be treated without abuse regardless of the quality of our work. If we know our work is very good and it is still being overly criticised, we are allowing ourselves to be demeaned unnecessarily. If our work is of lower quality than is desired, we may need help in learning how to do better. We still deserve respect. 1

2 If you are offended by someone's behaviour, explain to the person that you find his behaviour unacceptable. People can be unaware that they are offending others and would be upset if they were not told and some people may be more sensitive than others, or have different tolerance levels. Treating each other with dignity and respect is everyone's responsibility. Mistreatment of one s colleagues can escalate into bullying & harassment or violence. What Is Bullying And Harrassment Bullying is persistent unwelcome behaviour, mostly using unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, also exclusion, isolation, being singled out and treated differently, being shouted at, humiliated, excessive monitoring, having verbal and written warnings imposed, and much more. Anyone can be harassed, including people of any age or race, women or men. Harassment is often about one person (or a group of people) using power inappropriately over another person or group of people. Anti-discrimination law defines harassment as any form of behaviour that: You do not want; Offends, humiliates or intimidates you; and Creates a hostile environment. Sexual, racial and disability discrimination are the most common forms of harassment, but it can also be based on any other ground of discrimination It can be an isolated incident or repeated behaviour and is essentially about what the recipient deems to be offensive, not what the sender intends. The Effects Of Bullying And Harassment Being bullied does damage lives. The long-term effect of on-going bullying does damage a person s health and well-being and is long lasting. It damages 2

3 self-esteem, increases anxiety and causes serious depression and can lead to terrible and tragic events like suicide. The effects of bullying can be psychological, physical, financial and include: Family and relationship problems Stress-related illnesses and headaches Anxiety, depression; self-blame Stomach disorders and skin rashes Disempowerment Lethargy and sleep disturbance Anger; irritability Loss of concentration Loss of self esteem, lowered self confidence Loss of income; loss of potential income Panic attacks Reluctance to go to work Uncertainty of self Actively seeking other positions Post traumatic stress disorder What You Can Do 1. Bullying at work is an occupational health and safety (OHS) issue. Under OHS law,workers have the right to a safe and healthy working environment, and employers have the legal duty to protect the health and safety of workers. This means that employers must not cause or allow bullying to happen at their workplaces. 3

4 2. Involvement of the health and safety representative, the health and safety committee, and / or the union delegate or shop steward at your workplace is absolutely essential to assist in combating this growing problem. Talk with your fellow workers - it is very likely that if someone believes they re being bullied, other people at work may also be being bullied. 3. Report it, A large number of employers also have a dedicated EEO (EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OFFICER)- The fundamental role of an EEO Officer is to listen, provide support and advice for employees. Employees will be able to seek advice from an EEO Officer, without necessarily becoming involved in a more formal complaint. EEO Officers can act as a resource base to advise Managers on the general issues involved in a complaint of harassment, discrimination or bullying. EEO Officers are available to all employees to provide information and advice of a general nature about discrimination, harassment and resolution mechanisms. A complaint can be made and they are required to follow up and report back to you. Managers or supervisors are most often the people doing the bullying of workers. Take your diary with you to back up what you have to say. They may not believe you but you have at least told them there is a bullying problem. The more people that know, the more difficult it is for the bully to flourish. 4. Get the organisation to commit to a workplace dignity and respect charter Do not hesitate to call your union if necessary and get the legal advice and support you need 5. Make sure you're informed - find out what the organisation's policies and procedures are for preventing and handling bullying 6. Keep a diary. This will give a vital record of the nature of the bullying and when it occurred. It will be important when the bully is confronted. Many of the incidents may appear trivial in isolation so it is important to 4

5 establish a pattern over a period of time. Examples of Information you should write down include but are not limited to, Time and date of incident What occurred Identity of the bully People present Meetings you attend and who is present Outcomes of those meetings 7. In the end you may have to make a formal complaint and go through the grievance procedure. a large number of employers have an EEO OFFICER. If you do take this route, never go to a meeting connected with the complaint without a witness. What The Union Can Do Unions have identified bullying as a serious issue in workplaces (especially towards young workers) and have taken steps to have the issues highlighted and addressed in the workplace. Unions can help workers who believe they have been bullied at work by: Providing support to workers who believe they have been bullied at work Identifying, assessing and controlling workplace risks associated with bullying behaviour Assisting in the development of policies and procedures to prevent bullying behaviour and to ensure such workplace policies and procedures are in place 5

6 Assisting in the development of workplace dispute settlement procedures Negotiating directly with the employer Including Occupational Health and Safety clauses in enterprise agreements Representing an employee in industrial tribunals Assisting in the process of conducting risk assessments Launching prosecution action in the Industrial Relations Commission for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations Monitoring WorkCover claim history to establish if patterns are developing with bullying in the workplace Assisting union members in workers compensation claims and rehabilitation Arranging for counselling for affected employees. Unions will maintain confidentiality regarding all complaints and enquiries To ensure confidentially for all parties involved If the matter is to be made formal through the courts the basis of the complaint will have to be detailed with all parties able to give evidence as to their version of events. Making use of diversity Individuals have strengths and weaknesses, which make them different from the others. The understanding of what people can do well and what they do less well is important both to the person and to his management. The 6

7 differences should be valued and used to their full advantage. Using diversity is an important aspect of management. Ask anyone in your workplace what is most important to them at work. They will likely top their list with the desire to be treated with dignity and respect. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. You know when you have respect. You know when you don t. But what is respect really? And, how is respect demonstrated at work? You can demonstrate respect with simple, yet powerful actions. The following ideas will help you treat others with dignity and respect. Treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness. Encourage co-workers to express opinions and ideas Listen to what others have to say before expressing your viewpoint. Never speak over, butt in, or cut off another person. Use people s ideas to change or improve work. Let employees know you used their idea, or, better yet, encourage the person with the idea to implement the idea. Never insult people, name call, disparage or put down people or their ideas. Do not nit-pick, constantly criticise over little things, belittle, judge, demean or patronise. A series of seemingly trivial actions, added up over time, constitutes bullying. Treat people the same no matter their race, religion, gender, size, age, or country of origin. Implementation of policies and procedures consistently so people feel that they are treated fairly and equally. 7

8 Treating people differently can constitute harassment or a hostile work environment. Include all co-workers in meetings, discussions, training, and events. While not every person can participate in every activity, do not marginalise, exclude or leave any one person out. Provide an equal opportunity for employees to participate in committees, task forces, or continuous improvement teams. Solicit volunteers and try to involve every volunteer. Praise much more frequently than you criticise. Encourage praise and recognition from employee to employee as well as from the supervisor. The golden rule does apply at work, treat others as they wish to be treated. There are many other ways to demonstrate respect at work. These ten constitute a solid foundation. Implemented consistently at work, these respectful actions help ensure a respectful, considerate, professional work place. The Dignity & Respect in the Workplace Charter was developed by Unions NSW to protect workers from Bullying and Harrassment in the workplace. The Charter is a valuable resource is for employers to sign and display in their workplace, to show that they will not tolerate bullying in the workplace. The Charter Defines Bullying behaviour as well as the different types of Bullying. The Charter states clearly what an employer's responsibilities are and your rights under the OHS legislation. The Charter defines the following five steps to promoting a bully free workplace. 8

9 1. Workplace Consultation 2. Workplace Awareness Campaign 3. Training and Development 4. Procedures to deal with complaints 5. Consultation and feedback Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter The Labor Council of NSW has developed a Dignity and Respect in the Workplace charter to help prevent bullying at work. The charter is set out below. Dignity & Respect in the Workplace Charter This organisation is committed to a workplace that provides dignity and respect to all its employees. Dignity and respect requires acceptable behaviour from everyone in our workplace. Preamble Everyone in the workplace, irrespective of their position, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should suffer bullying or harassment while going about their work. This can put at risk the health, safety and well being of all employees. This organisation has therefore adopted a policy of zero tolerance to bullying or harassment at work. 9

10 Definitions Dignity and Respect requires an organisation to have and maintain a certain behavioural culture. Acceptable and unacceptable behaviour are defined below. What is unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour? Bullying Workplace bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed toward an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety. Harassment does not have to be repeated. A single incident of unreasonable behaviour may have the potential to escalate into bullying and therefore should not be ignored. Single incidents can still create a risk to health and safety. Within this definition: repeated refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour, not the specific form the behaviour takes. Behaviour is considered repeated if an established pattern can be identified. It may involve a series of diverse incidents eg verbal abuse, deliberate damage to personal property etc. unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would expect to victimise, humiliate, undermine or threaten. behaviour includes actions of individuals or a group, and may involve using a system of work as a means of victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening. risk to health and safety includes risk to the mental or physical health of the employee. 10

11 Types of Bullying Behaviour The following types of behaviour, where repeated or occurring as part of a pattern of behaviour, could be considered bullying: Being overloaded with work, or not being given enough work to do; Being required to perform tasks without proper training or instruction, and which may place an employee at risk from injury; Unreasonable overtime, unfair rostering, allocation of work (excessive workload) or being asked to perform non-work related tasks; Being excessively supervised or criticised; Subjected to constant ridicule and being put down in front of coemployees; Damage or interference with personal belongings, sabotage or undermining of work; Being subjected to loud and abusive, threatening or derogatory language usually when co-employees are present; Open or implied threat of the sack, or demotion or being pressured to resign; Creation of an oppressive and/or unhappy work environment to coerce or intimidate employees; Intimidation or threats to employees not to report or complain about conditions, Inappropriate behaviours or health, safety and welfare; Leaving offensive messages on or by telephone; Maliciously excluding and isolating a person from workplace activities, and promotional opportunities; Humiliating a person through gestures, or sarcastic, racist, or derogatory comments 11

12 Spreading gossip, false or malicious rumours about a person with intent to cause damage to a employee s employment or reputation; Inequitable use of performance management. There are bound to be occasional differences of opinion, conflicts and problems in working relationships these are part of working life. However, if workplace behaviour is repeated, unnecessary, deliberate and unprovoked, offensive, and is used to intimidate, humiliate, or threaten a employee, then workplace bullying exists and this will not be tolerated by our organisation. Single Incidents of Bullying Type Behaviour A single incident of harassing type behaviour may not be considered bullying. Nevertheless, this will not be ignored or allowed. This organisation will intervene to ensure that these incidents do not escalate. This will help prevent future incidents occurring. Examples of acceptable behaviour Managerial Actions Legitimate managerial actions include: Performance management processes; Action taken to transfer, make redundant or terminate an employee in a fair and equitable manner; Justified decisions not to provide a promotion in connection with an employee s employment; Disciplinary procedures for proven misconduct, and other behaviour or actions involving proven breaches of discipline; Managed business processes, such as workplace change or restructuring conducted in consultation with the employees and their 12

13 representatives, which is required under the NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 ( the Act ). Management and Supervisory Responsibilities This organisation has a duty of care under the Act in relation to the health safety and welfare of all our employees. This includes a commitment to the psychological wellbeing of every employee employed by this organisation. Employee participation is a key element in effective Health and Safety management systems. It promotes commitment to health and safety and develops a positive health and safety culture. This organisation is committed to fostering an environment consistent with consultative processes. Employers have responsibilities under legislation, including the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Key areas of legislation that provide for dignity and respect at work include: NSW Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 ( the Act ) and NSW Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 ( the Regulation ) Clause 9 of the Regulation requires all employers in NSW, regardless of size, to identify workplace risks. Violence and psychological hazards are defined as workplace risks. This clearly identifies bullying, as a psychological hazard, to be a risk. The OHS Regulation requires employers to eliminate risks associated with bullying and the only way to eliminate these risks is to have policies and procedures that respect dignity in the workplace. These policies and procedures should effectively deal with the issue by clearly setting out processes for complaints and appeals, provision of training for managers and supervisors and promotion of awareness amongst employees. The NSW Chief Industrial Magistrate has ruled that employers should not tolerate bullying, implement an anti-bullying policy and procedures, train staff 13

14 in working with policy and procedures, establish a complaints mechanism and continually monitor the effectiveness of these policies. Employers, in order to meet their primary duty of care obligations under the Act and the Regulation, have an obligation to conduct risk assessments to ensure risks from hazards, including bullying, are appropriately managed. This includes having processes to ensure respect and dignity exists in the workplace, as well as an anti-bullying policy and program. The Nsw Industrial Relations Act 1996 & Fair Work Act 2009 : both prohibit harassment on the grounds of trade union activity and both include unfair dismissal procedures. NSW Anti Discrimination Act 1977: prohibits workplace harassment on following grounds: Sex, pregnancy, race colour nationality descent ethnic or ethno religious background, marital status, disability (actual, past future or presumed), age transgender, sexual harassment, carer s responsibilities. Federal Human Rights Commission Act 1986: prohibits workplace harassment on the following grounds: Political opinion, social origin, medical record, criminal record, trade union activity and religion. Federal Racial Discrimination Act 1975: prohibits workplace harassment on the following grounds: Race, colour and nationality. Federal Sexual Discrimination Act 1984: prohibits workplace harassment on the following grounds: Sex, marital status and pregnancy. Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992: prohibits workplace harassment on the following grounds: Disability and impairment. Federal Age Discrimination Act 2004: prohibits workplace harassment on the grounds of age. 14

15 Employee Involvement Employees will be committed to: Reporting hazard, risk, or incident to the employer Participating in consultation during Risk Assessment Participating in training and awareness of the development of a dignity and respect in the workplace policy and procedures Adherence to a Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter Promoting a culture of respect and dignity for their fellow employees. Five Steps To A Bully-Free Workplace This organisation is committed to the five steps to a workplace with dignity and respect: STEP 1 - Workplace Consultation Set up appropriate consultative mechanisms involving our employees and their representatives to develop this organisation s Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter. Employees must be involved in the development of this code. It is important that the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter reflect the needs and nature of this organisation. A risk assessment will be conducted to ensure that this organisation is not at risk by fostering a culture that encourages or tacitly condones harassment and bullying. STEP 2 - Workplace Awareness campaign All employees from senior management down will be made aware of the meaning and application of the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace 15

16 Charter, the meaning of zero tolerance, and be given the ability to identify workplace bullying or circumstances including: How to recognise bullying How to report Bullying The possible effects of bullying Where to get further information The organisation will do this through OH&S induction and other training, posters, stickers and flyers explaining the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter. STEP 3 Training and Development The organisation will establish an effective training program for management and supervisors specifically tailored to the needs of our organisation and to meet the zero tolerance objectives. Management and supervisors will be trained in how to develop a workplace culture that encourages dignity and respect and is consistent with the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter, and the zero tolerance objectives. The training will include the skills necessary to manage the issue including skills in mediation and negotiation. In addition to the training supervisors, managers, OH&S representatives and staff will be provided with a Dignity and Respect toolkit to assist them in the ongoing risk management process. STEP 4 Procedures To Deal With Complaints This organisation will establish a complaints mechanism that includes: A time frame for complaints - complaints investigated immediately. 16

17 A process that includes a record of the problem (e.g. an incident report form) and any other relevant information about the allegation, which should be forwarded to a designated responsible person and acted upon immediately. A trained, designated and impartial mediator who has authority to act to resolve the problem to ensure a fair and equitable outcome. In some instances it may be appropriate for the mediator to be sourced from outside of this organisation. Support for parties involved; including counselling, formal apologies and any other appropriate action. Ultimately prevention through an effective Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter, and zero tolerance for bullying is the best way to ensure a productive and harmonious workplace. STEP 5 - Consultation and feedback A 6 monthly review of the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter and grievance procedures and mechanisms ensure that the policy remains effective and relevant. The review will involve consultation between senior management, relevant unions, OH&S Representatives and employees on the performance of the organisation on how it has met the objectives of the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter in the previous 6-month period. The review will identify, any relevant matter, strategy or performance targets for inclusion in the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter for the next 6 months.this organisation is committed to the wellbeing of our entire workforce and has agreed to meet the objectives outlined in this Charter. 17

18 SIGNATURES EMPLOYEE ELECTED UNION REPRESENTATIVES EMPLOYER REPRESENTATIVES OH&S COMMITTEE/REPRESENTATIVES 18

19 OH&S COMMITTEE/REPRESENTATIVES Consultation An employer has a duty to consult with his or her employees elected health and safety representatives about health and safety matters. This can be done through whatever consultative mechanisms are decided upon as appropriate in the workplace. There are broadly three forms of workplace consultative arrangements for occupational health and safety in NSW: Individual safety representatives directly represented in the work-group Occupational Health and Safety Committees with representatives from various workgroups Other agreed arrangements. The acceptable forms of occupational health and safety consultative structures are set out in Chapter 3 of the OHS Regulation2001. It is good business practice to consult directly with employees on health and safety matters that affect them. Consultation allows managers and supervisors to hear directly from employees about how safety policies affect the workplace and how they can be best implemented. Consultation will help an employer to: Establish whether bullying is a problem in the workplace Determine the best way of communicating the prevention message Successfully implement prevention measures There are a number of other ways in which an employer can consult in the workplace, including direct discussion, staff meetings, toolbox meetings, health and safety committee meetings, and special working groups. 19

20 When developing prevention methods, consultation should take place as early as possible. Enough time should be allowed for health and safety representatives to discuss bullying issues with employees in their designated work group and with the employer. When consulting, an employer should consider the needs of any employees from non-english speaking backgrounds. What to consult about Consultation should occur regarding the development of: Strategies for raising awareness, including appropriate training of staff including managers and supervisors A Code of Conduct Policy for the workplace Procedures for reporting incidents Procedures for investigating incidents Bullying resolution procedures Consultation should also occur when identifying bullying risk factors and developing measures to address risk factors. In most of the situations above, it will be practicable for an employer to consult with health and safety representatives. Refer to check list Create Awareness As a first step in creating a workplace free of bullying, employers should promote awareness of the issue among employees, including managers and supervisors. 20

21 By raising awareness, employers will be in a better position to identify workplace bullying, or circumstances in which bullying could occur. In workplaces with preventative measures in place and no record of workplace bullying, awareness raising reinforces management commitment to a bullyingfree working environment. In workplaces considering steps to manage the issue of bullying for the first time, awareness raising should make clear to everyone that bullying is unacceptable and that incidents of such behaviour should be reported. Awareness-raising information should communicate: How to recognise bullying The possible effects of bullying Where to get further information Channels of communication may include formal, training sessions, staff bulletins, intranet, staff meetings and informal discussion groups. In particular, information should be provided when: Recruiting employees (including appointing or promoting managers and supervisors) Running induction training Engaging contractors or supplying services to others Involving health and safety representatives and employees in the development of in-house policies can also play an important role in raising awareness. 21

22 Bullying and harassment checklist Sometimes, organisational factors can contribute to an atmosphere that leads to bullying behaviour. The checklist provides some pointers you can add more that may be relevant to your organisation. PART A: Organisational Factors CHECKLIST YES NO Name Workplace 1. Does this workplace have a Code Of Conduct policy developed in consultation with employees? 2. Has the organisation signed the Dignity and Respect Workplace Charter? 3. Are all job descriptions clearly defined? 4. Are grievance and investigation procedures for incidents involving alleged workplace bullying complaints in place? 5. Does this workplace have hazard reporting procedures in place for reporting workplace bullying and violence? 6. Have supervisors and managers been trained to recognise and deal with workplace bullying? 7. Has awareness been raised amongst staff about bullying and harassment in this workplace? 8. Are workers encouraged to speak up about health and safety concerns? 22

23 9. Do workers understand that workplace bullying is an occupational hazard and unacceptable? 10. Has your workplace signed up to the Dignity and Respect in the Workplace Charter? If you have answered NO to any of the questions 1-10 above, this may indicate there is a problem in your workplace and you should establish policies and procedures or modify existing work practices to minimise the risk of bullying. When conducting your risk assessment for identifying the potential for psychological hazards use the following checklist. Note that this checklist is not exhaustive and you may need to consider other factors that may be unique to your workplace. PART B: Assessing Risks of Bullying? CHECKLIST YES NO 11. Is the organisation undergoing restructuring, redundancy? 23

24 12. Are there competitive work teams in the organisation? 13. Is work over monitored? 14. Are long hours of work routinely expected? 15. Do managers expect workers to comply with impossible targets or time frames? 16. Are workers shouted at or picked on? 17. Are there high levels of sick leave? 18. Are there high levels of absenteeism? If you answered YES to any of the questions above, this may indicate there is a problem in your workplace and you should contact your union or OHS representative or visit the UnionSafe website to see what can be done to manage the psychological hazards that exist in your workplace. Useful Resources: WORKCOVER N.S.W: Preventing And Responding To Bullying At Work 24

25 Human Rights Commission Reachout.com: Workplace Bullying For more information please contact your union. This Fact Sheet is recommended as a guide only and is not a substitute for professional or legal advice. If you need clarification or further advice please consult your Union for further information or Contact the Workers Health Centre Ground Floor 133 Parramatta Road Granville NSW 2142 Phone: (02) The Workers Health Centre is a non-profit organisation that has provided workers with quality health and safety services since 1976 and can assist you. This material was developed by Unions NSW with the assistance of The Workers Health Centre as part of a project funded under the WorkCover NSW WorkCover Assist Program. Any views expressed are not necessarily those of WorkCover NSW. 25

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