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Employee Workplace Bullying and Harassment Complaint Resolution Schedule

Schedule overview

1 Purpose

To support the rights of both Students and Employees to achieve their full potential free from Workplace Bullying and Harassment, through a robust set of procedures for preventing and resolving Complaints of this nature.

2 Scope

This schedule must be read in conjunction with the Employee Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Complaints Procedure and is subordinate to it.

3 Schedule

This schedule must be used to resolve Complaints of Workplace Bullying and Harassment made against a University Employee.

3.1 Complaint resolution preliminary actions

The University recognises that Workplace Bullying and Harassment can have a damaging effect on Employees, both personally and professionally and can have a detrimental effect on the workplace and the University as a whole.

Whilst the University adopts a three stage resolution process, where an individual has raised Workplace Bullying and Harassment concerns but does not wish to lodge an Informal Complaint or Formal Complaint, the University has a responsibility to take these matters seriously and may be obligated to pursue these concerns further where they are considered to be of a serious nature and create a risk to an individual's health and safety.

Where necessary, the University may seek to separate individuals involved in a Workplace Bullying and Harassment Complaint. The specific action taken to separate individuals will be determined on a case by case basis, however one option may include removing one of the individuals from the environment. Where this occurs, as a matter of principle, the University will normally remove the alleged harasser rather than the Complainant, except in instances where this arrangement is not practical to ensure the ongoing business operations of the University, or where there are genuine health and safety concerns for the Complainant. Other options to separate individuals may be considered as appropriate.

3.2 Resolution process

3.2.1 Stage 1: initial action

If an individual feels they are being bullied or harassed at the University, there are a number of things that can be done to stop the Workplace Harassment. It is up to the individual what they choose to do.

Individuals can talk to, or write to, the harasser, explain that their behaviour is unacceptable, ask them to stop and/or quote the Workplace Bullying and Harassment definition, which states that “Workplace Bullying and Harassment is repeated, unreasonable behaviour of a person or a group of persons, by another or others in the workplace, and that creates a risk to health and safety”. Repeated Behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can range in behaviours over time. Unreasonable Behaviour is behaviour that may include but is not limited to behaviour that is offensive, victimising, humiliating, intimidating, degrading or threatening.

Individuals can talk to an Employee, an Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer, a Union representative, the Student Guild or Human Resources. Individuals can talk to the Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer informally and in confidence about what is happening. The Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer will listen and discuss the options that can be taken and generally provide support. An Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer can accompany the individual to see their Supervisor if they wish to take matters further. The Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer will offer support before, during and after any informal or formal action the individual might choose to take.

The role of the Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer is to ensure that the individual is able to make an informed choice about further action. The same Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer will not deal with more than one individual in any particular case. An Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer who handles the initial Complaint cannot be part of an Investigation, or involved in initiating Disciplinary Action.

Where an individual has not been able to resolve their concerns at Stage 1 then they should seek advice and support from their Supervisor, Human Resources, Student Services, a Union representative or the Student Guild, regarding their options and next steps.

3.2.2 Stage 2: further advice and assistance

If an individual feels they are being harassed and bullied at the University, an individual can make an Informal Complaint to their Supervisor.

Supervisors must attempt to resolve Informal Complaints and will:

  • Listen and discuss the options available and the possible outcomes. The Supervisor should listen to the Complainant, discuss formal and informal options and outline possible outcomes. The Complainant should not be made to feel that they should take certain action because of their responsibility to other individuals. It must be stated that there will be no Victimisation of the Complainant.
  • Refer the Complainant to an Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer, Human Resources, Student Services, a Union representative or the Student Guild for more detailed information and guidance on procedures if the individual has not already done so.
  • Provide the Complainant with a copy of the relevant Complaint Resolution Policy and Procedure and pursuant Schedule.
  • Support the Complainant to resolve their concerns via their chosen option to see if the concerns can be resolved without taking more formal action. These options may include:
    • speaking to the individual informally if they have not already done so in Stage 1
    • facilitating a meeting between those involved in the Complaint
    • seeking assistance from Human Resources to facilitate a Mediation process, where this is appropriate.
  • Ensure that all discussions are held in confidence with a workplace colleague, Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer or Nominated Representative present, if desired, by the Complainant.
  • Seek advice or ask for assistance from Human Resources.

Where the Complaint relates to an individual or individuals within the same work area as the Complainant, the Complainant can ask their Supervisor to speak to the Respondent informally if they wish, to see if the situation can be resolved without taking formal action. The Supervisor should contact the Respondent on an informal basis with a view to resolving the Complaint without formal action. The Complainant's allegations should be stated verbally to the Respondent and the Respondent should be advised that it is an informal meeting but that they may be accompanied by a Nominated Representative. Respondents should also be informed of their rights.

Where a Complaint relates to an individual or individuals within a different work area to the Complainant, the Complainant may request that their Supervisor speaks directly with the Respondent's Supervisor to determine the most appropriate way to resolve the concerns on an informal basis with a view to resolving the Complaint without formal action.

The Complainant will be advised as to the outcomes of these discussions and no action will be taken unless authorised by the Complainant.

The Complainant may also request that the matter be dealt with through a neutral third party Mediation process. The Supervisor may also suggest that resolution by a neutral third party or Mediator be undertaken, and may take steps to initiate this process if both parties to the Complaint are in agreement.

Notes must be made of the meeting between the Supervisor and Complainant and agreed by both. Notes must also be made of any meeting between the Respondent (or Respondent's Supervisor) and the Supervisor and agreed by both parties. These notes should be retained by the Supervisor, with a copy provided to the other party as appropriate.

If the outcome of the Informal Complaint is not satisfactory to the Complainant, they should be informed of the process for taking formal action and any other options.

3.2.3 Stage 3: Investigation

Where the Complainant believes that the Informal Complaint has not been resolved, and wishes to pursue the matter further, a Formal Complaint must be lodged in writing with the Director (Human Resources). There is an expectation that a Complainant will have tried to resolve the allegations informally in the first instance unless they can show that it would be inappropriate.

The Formal Complaint must contain sufficient details to establish that the Complaint has substance and is not frivolous or vexatious. The Formal Complaint should also particularise what stages have been taken to resolve the matter informally. The individual must be prepared to provide a written, signed statement.

All Complaints will be dealt with on merit, however if any claim is found to be frivolous or vexatious the University may take action in accordance with section 3.3. A Complaint made in good faith is not a vexatious Complaint, even if the Complaint is eventually not substantiated.

On receipt of the Formal Complaint(s), the Director (Human Resources) will review the Formal Complaint and may, where appropriate, refer the written Complaint back to the Complainant's Supervisor in accordance with Section 3.2.1 in order to resolve the matter informally.

Where it is established that the Complaint is properly founded, the Director (Human Resources) will initiate an Investigation. The Director (Human Resources) will appoint a suitable person, who may be external to the University, to conduct the Investigation.

Where a Complaint is not properly founded or unsubstantiated then no further action will be taken. The Director (Human Resources) will advise the Complainant and Respondent of this Decision.

Where the Complaint is properly founded, the Director (Human Resources) will provide the Respondent with a copy of the Complainant's Formal Complaint as soon as practicable. The Respondent will be given the opportunity to respond to the allegations within 10 working days, where practicable.

The person conducting the Investigation will act expeditiously and will have access to all persons and relevant information to fully investigate the matter, consistent with the principles of natural justice. This formal Investigation may entail gathering evidence, interviewing both the Complainant and the Respondent separately, and interviewing other individuals.

The Complainant may be accompanied by a Nominated Representative. A Respondent may be accompanied by a Nominated Representative.

Confidentiality will be respected and maintained at all times during the Investigation process, within the constraints of fully investigating the Complaint, consistent with the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.

All parties involved in an Investigation, including witnesses, are required to participate in good faith and comply with all reasonable requests necessary to complete the Investigation.

The outcomes of the Investigation will be forwarded to the Director (Human Resources) for consideration. The Director (Human Resources) will review the outcomes and any recommendations made by the investigator and commence appropriate action to resolve the Complaint.

The Director (Human Resources) will advise both the Complainant and the Respondent of the Director's Decision and any action to be taken.

The University will take all reasonable steps to ensure the Complainant will not be victimised regardless of the outcome of the action.

If the allegations are substantiated, the Respondent may be subject to Disciplinary Action.

3.3 Disciplinary Action

Where Workplace Bullying and Harassment is found to have occurred, this may be considered as misconduct or serious misconduct and Disciplinary Action may be commenced against the Respondent against whom the findings were made.

Where Disciplinary Action is recommended the Director (Human Resources) will advise the Vice-Chancellor who, on the basis of the findings, will determine whether Disciplinary Action should be commenced against the person(s) subject to the findings.

Where it is determined that Disciplinary Action should commence, the process of Clause 33 Disciplinary Action and Clause 34 Disciplinary Action for Misconduct or Serious Misconduct of the University of Southern Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2014-2017, or the provisions of any other relevant contract of employment, will apply.

The Vice-Chancellor will provide written advice of the Decision to both the Complainant and the Respondent(s) against whom the Complaint was made.

The University may take action against a person(s) making a frivolous or vexatious Complaint. Any person(s) found to have made such a Complaint may be subject to the University's disciplinary procedures as contained in the University of Southern Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2014-2017 or other relevant contract of employment.

4 References

Nil.

5 Schedule Information

Accountable Officer

Executive Director (Finance and People Capability)

Policy Type

University Procedure

Approved Date

9/9/2016

Effective Date

9/9/2016

Review Date

21/1/2018

Relevant Legislation

Related Policies

Code of Conduct Policy

Employee Complaints and Grievances Policy

Employee Equity and Diversity Policy

Harassment and Discrimination Complaint Resolution for Students Policy and Procedure

Media Engagement Policy

Related Procedures

Disciplinary Action for Misconduct or Serious Misconduct Procedure

Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Complaints against Employees Procedure

Employee Domestic and Family Violence Support Procedure

Media Engagement Procedure

Prevention of Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Procedure

Termination of Employment Procedure

Related forms, publications and websites

Harassment and Diversity Contact Officers

Human Resources Website

Student Complaints and Appeals Management System

Student Equity website

Definitions

Terms defined in the Definitions Dictionary

Complainant

A person who has made a Complaint against another person of the University community....moreA person who has made a Complaint against another person of the University community.

Complaint

An expression of dissatisfaction made in relation to an action, Decision or omission within the responsibility and control of the University, a University Member or a Student, where a response or resolution process is expected wherever possible....moreAn expression of dissatisfaction made in relation to an action, Decision or omission within the responsibility and control of the University, a University Member or a Student, where a response or resolution process is expected wherever possible.

Decision

A determination made by an Employee, contractor or other authorised delegate in the course of their duties on behalf of the University....moreA determination made by an Employee, contractor or other authorised delegate in the course of their duties on behalf of the University.

Employee

A person employed by the University and whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement and includes persons employed on a continuing, fixed term or casual basis. Employees also include senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University....moreA person employed by the University and whose conditions of employment are covered by the USQ Enterprise Agreement and includes persons employed on a continuing, fixed term or casual basis. Employees also include senior Employees whose conditions of employment are covered by a written agreement or contract with the University.

Formal Complaint

A Formal Complaint is a written Complaint lodged with the relevant delegate, which is dealt with through a formal process of the University. It may lead to a formal investigation of allegations....moreA Formal Complaint is a written Complaint lodged with the relevant delegate, which is dealt with through a formal process of the University. It may lead to a formal investigation of allegations.

Informal Complaint

A Complaint expressed either verbally or in writing to a relevant delegate, which is not dealt with through a formal process of the University. It may involve a discussion with relevant parties in order to receive information and explore options on resolving the matter. It does not involve a formal investigation or the determination of evidence....moreA Complaint expressed either verbally or in writing to a relevant delegate, which is not dealt with through a formal process of the University. It may involve a discussion with relevant parties in order to receive information and explore options on resolving the matter. It does not involve a formal investigation or the determination of evidence.

Mediation

A process in which parties to a dispute, with the assistance of a neutral third party ('the Mediator'), identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach an agreement. The Mediator has no advisory or other determinative role with regard to the content of the dispute or the outcome of its resolution, but may advise on or determine the process of...moreA process in which parties to a dispute, with the assistance of a neutral third party ('the Mediator'), identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach an agreement. The Mediator has no advisory or other determinative role with regard to the content of the dispute or the outcome of its resolution, but may advise on or determine the process of mediation whereby resolution is attempted.

Mediator

An individual with appropriate experience and training appointed by the University to assist the Complainant and Respondent to negotiate a solution which is acceptable to both of them but not to determine what that solution will be....moreAn individual with appropriate experience and training appointed by the University to assist the Complainant and Respondent to negotiate a solution which is acceptable to both of them but not to determine what that solution will be.

Respondent

A member of the University community against whom a Complaint has been made....moreA member of the University community against whom a Complaint has been made.

Student

A person who has been Admitted or Enrolled at the University, but has not yet graduated from their Academic Program....moreA person who has been Admitted or Enrolled at the University, but has not yet graduated from their Academic Program.

University

The term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland....moreThe term 'University' or 'USQ' means the University of Southern Queensland.

Victimisation

Any unfavourable treatment, or threats of unfavourable treatment against a person as a result of their actual or intended involvement in a complaint under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 or under any of these procedures. The involvement might include making a complaint, supplying information and producing documents to someone making a complaint or appearing as a witness in a proceedin...moreAny unfavourable treatment, or threats of unfavourable treatment against a person as a result of their actual or intended involvement in a complaint under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 or under any of these procedures. The involvement might include making a complaint, supplying information and producing documents to someone making a complaint or appearing as a witness in a proceeding under the Act. Unfavourable treatment may include adverse changes to their study or work environment, denial of access to resources, work opportunities or training, ignoring the person or lower assessment of Student work. Victimisation is an offence under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

Workplace Bullying and Harassment

Workplace Bullying and Harassment, under the Fair Work Act 2009, occurs where an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards an Employee or group of Employees at work, and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. Within this definition: Repeated Behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can range in behaviours over time. Unreason...moreWorkplace Bullying and Harassment, under the Fair Work Act 2009, occurs where an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards an Employee or group of Employees at work, and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. Within this definition:Repeated Behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can range in behaviours over time.Unreasonable Behaviour is behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard to the circumstances, may see as unreasonable. This may include but is not limited to behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.A Risk to Health and Safety means the possibility of danger to health and safety, and is not confined to actual danger to health and safety

Definitions that relate to this schedule only

Disciplinary Action

Means action by the University to discipline an Employee for Misconduct or Serious Misconduct and includes: formal censure or counselling; demotion by one or more classification levels or increments; withholding of an increment; suspension with or without pay; or termination of employment for Serious Misconduct only.

Facilitation

A confidential meeting between people in conflict, facilitated by a Supervisor or Human Resources representative. The meeting aims to discuss and resolve issues between individuals so that they can work out an agreement which suits them all. Supervisors and HR representatives who facilitate the meeting between parties are also obligated to counsel and advise individuals of expected behaviours in accordance with the USQ Code of Conduct and other appropriate policies, and identify any development opportunities for individuals involved.

Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer

A University Employee who has volunteered to provide an initial point of contact for Employees and Students who have inquiries about any form of Workplace Bullying and Harassment, Discrimination or Harassment. The Harassment and Diversity Contact Officers are appointed by the Vice-Chancellor for a term of three years. The Harassment and Diversity Contact Officer provides information and support (not counselling) about the resolution options available to Employees and Students.

Investigation

A formal proceeding undertaken by an individual with appropriate experience and training appointed by the University, to assess a Complaint of Workplace Bullying and Harassment, Discrimination or Harassment in order to establish its veracity and recommend possible action. This may include Disciplinary Action. Investigation requires interviewing both Complainant and Respondent(s), any relevant witnesses and reviewing any relevant documentation or records to corroborate such testimony.

Supervisor

Any person responsible for leading the activities of others. In the context of this procedure, a Supervisor includes Employees at any classification level or title who have responsibilities for leading, managing or supervising work teams and/or individual Employees.

Nominated Representative

In relation to an Employee, means a person selected by the Employee to assist or represent the Employee. The person may be an officer or Employee of the relevant Union, or any other person chosen by the Employee. In relation to the University, it means a person selected by the University to assist or represent the University. The person may be an Employee of the University, or an officer or Employee of AHEIA, or any other person selected by the University. The Nominated Representative must not be a practising barrister or solicitor and must not present a Conflict of Interest.

Reasonable Management Action

Reasonable Management Action, carried out in a reasonable manner, is behaviour expressly excluded from Workplace Bullying and Harassment claims. The behaviour must be lawful management action; it must be reasonable for the management action to be taken; and the management action must be carried out in a manner that is reasonable, taking into consideration the circumstances. It includes action such as responding to poor performance, taking necessary Disciplinary Action and effectively directly and controlling the way work is carried out.

Keywords

Discrimination, Harassment, Victimisation, resolution, Complaint, Workplace Bullying and Harassment

Record No

14/1140PL

Failure to comply with this Policy or Policy Instrument may be considered as misconduct and the provisions of the relevant Policy or Procedure applied.

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