As an employer, you are responsible for providing safe working conditions for your staff. It is up to you to ensure that the workplace is a healthy and respectful environment where sexual harassment is not tolerated; and this should come from the top down.
Detailed policies and procedures in relation to sexual harassment will help to create a positive workplace where employees feel safe to complete their duties without fear or anxiety, leading to better employee motivation and higher levels of performance.
It is also important from a legal standpoint to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment from happening in your workplace, to avoid any legal consequences for the business. Read our article on Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace on why employers need to take harassment claims seriously.
What type of information should be included?
Sexual harassment policies should clearly describe what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour inside and outside of the workplace. In addition, the consequences for breaching the policy should be outlined and easy for all workers to understand.
Sexual harassment policies should also provide straightforward guidance to workers on how they can raise these types of issues in the workplace, who they should contact, as well as the procedures surrounding how the business will investigate and address them.
Simply put, a workplace policy dealing with sexual harassment should include:
- A clear statement that sexual harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstance
- The definition of sexual harassment and acknowledgment that sexual harassment is unlawful
- A description of types of behaviours, attitudes and languages that disrespect or exclude people based on features such as gender, sexual orientation etc
- Examples of types of behaviours that are and are not allowed
- What is considered appropriate use of social media and technology
- The control measures which are in place to prevent sexual harassment
- The duties of all workers including managers and supervisors, in relation to sexual harassment
- The consequences of breaching the policy
- What a worker should do if they experience or witness sexual harassment
- How workers can report sexual harassment
- The process your business will undertake when receiving a report or dealing with a concern
- How your business will keep people safe while the matter is dealt with
- Options for how a complaint can be dealt with
- When an external or independent third-party may be required to investigate further, and;
- External support services available for all those involved.
All workers need to be made aware of sexual harassment policies and procedures so they have a good understanding of the standard of behaviour that is expected of them. By working with employees to address sexual harassment in the workplace, you will not only minimise exposure to the time and costs involved in managing such matters, but you will create safer, healthier, more respectful and productive working environments.
Do you have sexual harassment policies and procedures in place in your business? Don’t hesitate to contact us for an obligation-free chat about how we could assist via the chat box or calling us on 08 6150 0043.
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