Investigations found 43% of policies and procedures need to be reviewed

Key Stat 7 November

Investigation Report Key Statistics: Edition 7

As leaders in workplace investigations, iHR Australia conduct a large number of independent investigations for a wide range of organisations across the country. Based on our findings we have compiled a collection of statistics to track trends in the workplace. These key statistics provide valuable insights into areas of concern that can influence your business.

November Key Statistic: Reviewing organisation policy and procedures were recommended in 43% of reports and mediation in 41%

John Boardman, iHR Australia’s Director of Workplace Relations outlined some of the common issues with policies and procedures that require attention.

What key issues were identified as short comings in policy documents?

Many policies do not have adequate definitions of bullying behaviour and in some cases, there is no definition at all!

While additional explanation is helpful; care needs to be taken to ensure that terminology is not introduced that significantly differs from the definitions used by the Fair Work Act or the various Worksafe organisations. When we introduce, for example, the concepts of “embarrassment” or “discomfort” it begs the question how this is applied to be applied. Accepted definitions frequently have a body of case law that has, over time, provided guidance to the proper application of the terminology being used. When we use different terms they may be open to interpretation.

Other policies documents are too prescriptive, such as mandating that complaints must be made in writing by the complainant; others require investigations to be conducted within unrealistic time frames; or a process that requires that the parties must attempt to resolve the matter informally before making a formal complaint.

A one off incident of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is frequently not adequately covered in policy definitions; and yet may pose a significant risk to the health and safety and well-being of the person who is the target of such behaviour. Bullying behaviour requires a pattern of persistent behaviour and therefore cannot be a one-off incident. Many harassment policies require the basis of the harassment to involve a ‘Prescribed Attribute’ to meet the definition of Harassment.  This frequently leads to inappropriate behaviour not being capable of being found to be in breach of organisational policy.

Mediation is a powerful tool in resolving workplace tension and disputes. Frequently, mediation is better facilitated if the parties have a factual basis from which to seek solutions moving forward.

What next

If your organisation needs assistance updating your policies and procedures – iHR Australia can help.
< Learn more about outsourcing the design of your HR policies and procedures