Conduct and Compliance Procedure - Resolution of Unacceptable Behaviour in the Workplace
Conduct and Compliance Policy
These procedures are to be read in conjunction with the ‘Guide to Managing Conflict: Positive steps for managing and promoting a healthy workplace culture’ (‘the Guide’) and are intended to be applied in cases where it is alleged that a staff member in the course of their employment by the University, has been subjected to unwarranted, unjustifiable or inappropriate behaviour by another staff member and when local resolution has not been successful.
In presenting this material, it is acknowledged that these procedures should be considered as one of three distinct phases associated with the successful management of unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. They are:
- Managing conflict at the workplace level;
- Lodging a complaint alleging unacceptable behaviour; and
- Resolving complaints that allege unacceptable behaviour.
The emphasis of the processes described in these procedures is on the resolution of the actual conflict between staff. The process is intended to be non judgemental and assumes no assignment of fault or responsibility, rather it provides the parties with a facilitated process and safe environment in which to reach a mutually agreed solution (where possible).
If satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved and, only when in the opinion of the Director, Workplace Relations there is thought to be substance to the complaint, will the process move to identifying fault or determining that formal disciplinary action is to be taken in accordance with the relevant Enterprise Agreement.
Conflict: The catalyst that causes staff to engage in hurtful, demeaning or destructive behaviour toward another person.
Director, Workplace Relations: The person appointed to that position or their nominee.
Formal Disciplinary Action: Action initiated by the University in accordance with the ‘Disciplinary clauses contained in the relevant Monash University Enterprise Agreement.
Local Resolution: Initial action initiated and taken by the next senior level of management within the particular workplace when first alerted to the existence of the conflict, provided that the relevant manager is not a party to the complaint and is competent to assist the parties to resolve their differences.
Natural Justice: Natural justice involves the University informing staff of the case against them; affording them the right to be heard; not having a personal interest in the outcome; and acting only on the basis of logically probative evidence.
Unacceptable Behaviour: Behaviour that has created or has the potential to create a risk to a staff member’s health and safety. Examples of unacceptable behaviour include but are not limited to:
- emotional, psychological or physical violence or abuse;
- occupational violence;
- coercion, harassment and/or discrimination;
- aggressive/abusive behaviour;
- unreasonable demands and undue persistence; and
- disruptive behaviour.
Notification of complaint
The University strongly encourages the reporting of behaviour that is Unacceptable Behaviour or that contains signs of potential or actual conflict involving staff, but will not tolerate vexatious or frivolous complaints.
Where stated these procedures incorporate the rules and principles of natural justice, also known as procedural fairness, to endeavour to ensure that decision making is fair and reasonable.
It is the aim of the University to minimise reliance on formal disciplinary processes when dealing with complaints arising from allegations of Unacceptable Behaviour by encouraging managers to work through a local resolution framework before referring the complaint to a formal investigation in accordance with the disciplinary processes contained in relevant Enterprise Agreement.
Through the application of these Procedures, the University seeks to empower managers to effectively respond to complaints that allege inappropriate behaviour, by them focusing on the identification of the cause(s) of the complaint generating behaviour and implementing strategies to address them at the local workplace level.
Further guidance on appropriate strategies and approaches may be obtained through reference to the Guide or from the Workplace Relations Branch.
The University requires all parties involved in the resolution of the complaint to work cooperatively to achieve a fair and reasonable solution at the local level.
Procedures for the resolution of incidents alleging Unacceptable Behaviour comprise two stages, specifically (i) Notification and (ii) Alternative Resolution Processes.
- Where either of the parties to the conflict or their manager or another informed person believes that resolution at the local level is not possible and additional assistance, external to the immediate work area is required, they should notify the Director, Workplace Relations of their concerns using the Confidential Unacceptable Behaviour Notification [pdf]
- The Director, Workplace Relations will then inform each of the parties that a request for additional assistance has been received.
- The Director, Workplace Relations will, within 10 days of receiving the notification, invite the parties to participate in a facilitated meeting (‘the meeting’) the purpose of which is to:
- identify with each of the parties, the issues thought to be the cause of the conflict;
- clarify what is being sought by either of the parties and what is required to resolve their differences; and
- strive to reach agreement on a mutually acceptable resolution process which may include an agreement to submit their complaint to mediation or to work together to resolve the issues between them.
- In this meeting, each party will be informed of the position of the other, clarifying and explaining the options available. Staff may be assisted by a support person throughout each stage of the Formal Resolution Process.
- In cases where there is a genuine concern for the welfare of either party, the requirement to attend the meeting may be waived and the information sought through separate meetings. However, both parties will eventually need to meet to resolve their differences but only when it is considered safe to do so.
- Failure by the complainant to attend the meeting without acceptable cause, renders any further action taken under these procedures ended.
- Failure by the respondent to attend the meeting, when on the view of the Director, Workplace Relations, there are reasonable grounds for the complaint to have been made, may lead to the initiation of formal disciplinary action to be taken in accordance with the relevant Enterprise Agreement. Where the Director, Workplace Relations forms the view that formal disciplinary action is to be taken, the Director, Workplace Relations will inform the parties in writing.
Alternative Resolution Processes
- If both parties agree to submit the matter to mediation, the Director, Workplace Relations will, within ten (10) days of the completion of the meeting referred to in paragraph 3(iii) above, appoint a competent mediator to assist them to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to the conflict.
- Alternatively, if the parties seek to implement one of the options developed in the meeting and referred to in paragraph 3(iii) above, a timetable should be agreed between them that includes reporting their progress in resolving the conflict to the Director, Workplace Relations.
- If the parties are unable within a reasonable period of time (as determined by the Director, Workplace Relations) to reach a mutually agreed outcome either in relation to an acceptable resolution process or despite their best endeavours, the conflict itself, the Director, Workplace Relations must:
- formally notify each party and their respective manager(s) that the matter has not been resolved; and
- determine an appropriate course of action to be followed to resolve the conflict.
- When considering what may be an appropriate course of action to be taken, the Director, Workplace Relations will have regard to the provision of the services available for conflict resolution referred to in the Guide and the likelihood of their successful application, if provided.
- If, in the opinion of the Director, Workplace Relations, there are sufficient grounds to support disciplinary action being taken, then the procedures prescribed in the relevant Monash University Enterprise Agreement will be applied.
- The outcome of this process will be recorded and remain confidential to the parties directly involved.
- Where the Director, Workplace Relations forms the view that no further action is to be taken, then the Director, Workplace Relations will inform both parties in writing of the reasons for that view.
- Where these Procedures have been exhausted and either party remains dissatisfied they may seek to invoke the provisions of Clause 12 - Dispute Resolution Procedure of the Monash University Enterprise Agreement (Academic and Professional Staff) 2009.
- All managers and supervisors who have staff subject to their day-to-day direction have a responsibility to ensure that these procedures are widely understood and applied within their work group.
- Members of staff who have a concern about, or believe that they or another member of staff are being subjected to Unacceptable Behaviour have a responsibility to report that behaviour using the Confidential Unacceptable Behaviour Notification [pdf]
- Early notification will facilitate early intervention to assist those staff who may require support and/or guidance on how to manage potential conflict in the workplace.
- Where there is any doubt as to whether an actual or potential complaint falls under this procedure, clarification should be sought in the first instance from the Director, Workplace Relations.
||14 March 2011
||Director, Workplace Relations
||Executive Director Monash HR