It is no secret that workplace bullying and sexual harassment issues are rampant across Australia’s hospitality sector.
A recent survey revealed a staggering 90 per cent of Australian hospitality workers have experienced sexual harassment, and workplace bullying is estimated to cost employers up to $36 billion every year.
Workplace misconduct damages reputations, causes staff turnover and negatively impacts balance sheets, particularly in the hospitality sector. It is critical that hospitality business owners take steps to protect staff and their business by implementing effective risk prevention, management and reporting frameworks.
Why seek to eliminate bullying and sexual harassment?
- Employers have a legal duty to provide safe workplaces for their employees that are free from risks to their health.
- Employers also have, or will soon have, a positive obligation to eliminate sexual harassment.
- Employers can be liable for the conduct of staff that have engaged in bullying or sexual harassment.
- Being bullied or sexually harassed is a leading cause of depression, anxiety, reduced self-esteem, decreased concentration, and physical illness. This leads to staff absenteeism and high turnover, which increases wage and other employment costs.
- Legal claims of sexual harassment and bullying are time-consuming and costly to defend.
What can employers do?
- Develop and implement a compliant Appropriate Workplace Behaviour Policy identifying behaviours that are unacceptable and not tolerated, and the consequences of engaging in those behaviours at work.
- Ensure staff read and understand the policy, and that it is easily accessible to all staff.
- Conduct training for all staff every 12-18 months on the policy and acceptable behaviours, including additional training for managers.
- Regularly remind staff of their obligations not to bully or sexually harass others (including staff, customers and suppliers) by, for example, placing posters on notice boards.
- Deal with incidents of bullying or sexual harassment immediately and appropriately. More serious allegations generally require more serious responses.
- Instil and maintain a culture that encourages respectful workplace interactions, which is led by managers and senior employees. This means recruiting people of integrity and good character into managerial roles.
With a positive workplace culture, defined and trained standards of behaviour, high levels of managerial engagement, and consequences for non-adherence, hospitality workplaces are able to largely eradicate or quickly resolve any issues before they become systemic or costly problems.
If you have any questions about bullying and sexual harassment or how to be legally compliant, please contact us below or send in your enquiry here.
Author: Ben McKinley
The information in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.