31 May Your Guide to Creating a Harassment-free Workplace
By: Human Resources Online, Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash
Workplace harassment manifests in many forms and occurs when someone (for example, a customer, contractor or volunteer) demonstrates behaviours that cause harassment, alarm or distress to another party. This includes, but is not limited to, verbal or non-verbal threats and abuse, cyberbullying, sexual harassment and stalking.
It can occur not only within the office environment, but at clients’ premises, on business trips or during other work-related occasions.
Employers owe a duty of care to their employees to ensure a safe work environment, and you can do your part to prevent and manage workplace harassment.
These are some good practices to consider:
Develop a harassment prevention policy
Employers should develop a policy in consultation with their employees and the union (if the organisation is unionised) and the policy should be communicated to all employees in the organisation through multiple channels such as the employee induction programme, human resource handbook, etc.
An effective policy should clearly indicate a zero tolerance for harassment of any form, and that it would be handled seriously. It should also include examples of harassment, avenues for reporting, information on investigation and grievance handling procedures, and actions to be taken against the harasser.
Provide information and training on workplace harassment
It is only possible for harassment to be taken seriously at all levels of the organisation if all are familiar with the issue and play an active role in preventing and reporting harassment cases when they occur. Employers should consider training their HR, line managers and supervisors to handle harassment cases, and provide counselling services and support to affected individuals.
Implement reporting and response procedures
Employers can create a safe environment for employees to voice their concerns by establishing a harassment reporting line to ensure timely reporting.
From appointing trained neutral parties to inquire into the case to providing an avenue for appeals, investigation procedures should be documented to ensure fair treatment of such cases. Lastly, remember to provide proper closure of the incident to prevent recurrences.
TAFEP as the resource centre to manage workplace harassment
TAFEP, together with the Tripartite Partners, has put in place resources on the prevention of workplace harassment. Employers can now approach TAFEP for assistance regarding measures to put in place.
Employees facing workplace harassment can also choose to file a report with TAFEP, and seek advice and support. At the same time, they are advised to approach the State Courts or make a police report for possible violations under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Creating a safe and conducive workplace is fundamental to helping employees achieve their full potential and contribute to the success of your organisation. Let’s do our part!