The recent David Jones debacle should serve as a timely reminder for business owners, company directors, and HR managers about the importance of strict company policies in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Most of our clients have in place employment agreements that require their employees to comply with their company policies. (Note: If yours doesn’t cover this, or you haven’t had your employment agreements reviewed for a while, let us know and we will let you know if you have this covered or not). But many companies simply do not get around to drafting a full set of company policies or employee manuals. As the David Jones case has shown, the attitude of a company to these important issues can have a major bearing on the resolution of matters that may arise in your organisation.
And it’s not just the perpetrators who are in the firing line in this type of matter – owners of the business face the real risk of loss, not just in the cost of litigation, but also in brand loss – and let’s face it, loss of staff morale. Directors of the business are also potentially in the firing line – personally, as shown by the David Jones case.
So how do you, as an owner, director, or people manager, go about protecting yourself, your company, and your employees for that matter? The answer is in creating and communicating clear guidelines as to what is and what isn’t acceptable in your workplace. And a clear policy of action for employees who are concerned that something is out of place. Make sure you have updated company policies and procedures that are communicated to all employees. Don’t let your policies be something that is hidden on a shelf in a folder. Communicate them.
And if you aren’t sure if your company’s policies, or your procedures for communicating those policies, stack up – just give us a call. As always, we want to work with you to prevent these situations, rather than act after the fact.