In the event of a claim of harassment, bullying or discrimination – your organisation may be required to show that is took reasonable steps to help prevent the incident.
What does reasonable look like?
The term ‘reasonable steps’ is not defined in legislation. What could be construed as reasonable for a large corporation may not be reasonable for a small organisation. For example, a large multinational would be expected to have taken many steps to minimise discrimination and harassment occurring – whilst for a small business, only having taking a few steps could be viewed as reasonable. What is reasonable is determined on a case-by-case basis. The following matters are considered:
- The size and structure of the organisation
- Available resources
- The nature of the work undertaken
- Gender imbalances in the workplace
- The employment of women in non traditional areas
- The number of junior staff
- The workplace culture
- Cultural diversity in the workplace
- Any history of harassment
- Any relevant provisions in industrial awards or agreements
- Working hours
- Level of supervision
- Any other relevant factor, such as geographic isolation of the work location, duties which require working in close physical proximity, live-in arrangements, etc.
Regardless of size, all organisations must actively implement precautionary measures. These may include:
- Having a well-developed and communicated policy
- Ensuring that staff receive good quality training
- Have managers at all levels role model appropriate behaviour
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