The CEPU is committed to ensuring that the working environment is free from sexual harassment and other forms of harassment.
The CEPU believes that all officers, employees and members have a right to be treated with dignity, courtesy and respect in the workplace.
Sexual harassment and other forms of harassment will not be tolerated under any circumstances. All complaints will be treated in a fair and confidential manner. Any person making a complaint will be protected from victimisation.
The following policy adopted by Divisional Executive sets out the legal definition of sexual harassment, the responsibilities of officers, employees and members and identifies other forms of harassment. The procedures to be followed in the event of a harassment complaint are set out in the document entitled, CEPU Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures.
All officers, employees and members of the CEPU are required to comply with and support the sexual harassment and other forms of harassment policy.
Breaches of the policy may result in disciplinary action and disciplinary action may be taken against anyone who victimises a person who has complained of harassment.
Disciplinary action may include an apology, counselling, a warning, demotion, dismissal or any other penalty which is consistent within the rules of the CEPU.
The aim of the policy is to create a working environment which is free from discrimination sexual harassment or any other form of harassment and where all officials, employees and members of the CEPU are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.
The objectives are:
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment can be defined in the following way:
Sexual harassment is any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature which makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended and where it is reasonable in the circumstances that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can take many different forms and may include physical contact, verbal comments, jokes, propositions, the display of offensive material or other behaviour which creates a sexually hostile working environment. (The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Sexual Harassment Code of Practice, Commonwealth of Australia 1996).
Examples of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment may include:
What sexual harassment is not
Behaviour which is welcomed, consensual or reciprocated is not sexual harassment. Interactions based on mutual attraction, friendship and respect do not constitute sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is against the law
Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Federal Sex Discrimination Act, 1984 and anti-discrimination laws in all States and Territories (see Attachment 1).
Sexual harassment in employment is prohibited in the following circumstances:
Under the legislation employers are required to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.
Responsibilities of the Union, officials, employees and members
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Sexual Harassment Code of Practice specifies:
(a) A union employee must not sexually harass:
(b) A union member must not sexually harass:
(c) A union employee or member must not engage in any act of victimisation.
(d) A union employee or member must not cause, instruct, induce, aid or permit another person to commit an act of sexual harassment.
(e) Unions are vicariously liable for acts of sexual harassment committed by employees or agents in connection with their duties unless "all reasonable steps" were taken to prevent sexual harassment occurring.
(f) Agents of the union can include shop stewards and other workplace delegates.
(g) Individual persons are liable for their own acts of sexual harassment and victimisation. As well spreading gossip and rumours may expose individuals to defamation.
Sex discrimination and harassment
Sex discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than someone else in the same or similar circumstances on the grounds of sex, marital status or pregnancy. For example, separate pay scales for men and women.
Sex discrimination also occurs in employment policies and practices which appear to be neutral but which actually adversely affect a higher proportion of one sex or marital status than the other. For example, a rule that all police officers must be six feet tall.
Sex based harassment is harassment which is directed at someone because of their sex. It is usually based on some form of constant derogatory taunts and references about a person's gender.
It is unlawful to discriminate or harass someone on the basis of sex.
Other forms of harassment
Other types of behaviour which offends, humiliates or intimidates on the basis of for example, age, family responsibilities, race, disability, sexual preference, transgender can be brought within discrimination provisions in both State and Federal legislation.
Examples include making hurtful jokes about a person's age, imitating their accent or mannerisms, racist comments or graffiti, using derogatory terms for disabilities.
Bullying is also a form of harassment and can be brought within anti-discrimination and criminal codes. When a person's health or safety is at risk, bullying is a breach of occupational health and safety laws.
Examples include verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, taunts or teasing, and degrading or embarrassing practical jokes.
CEPU policy is that other forms of harassment or bullying are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and other harassment complaints are set out in a document entitled, CEPU's Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures. The procedures enable any person who makes a complaint of sexual harassment or harassment to either:
Any person wishing to make a complaint through the CEPU Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Harassment Complaint Procedures should contact the relevant Branch Secretary (or nominee) or the Divisional Secretary (or nominee).
The policy will be widely promoted and updated as required. Both the policy and the complaint procedures will be subject to review.
Federal, State and Territory Anti-Discrimination Legislation
Note: Employers are required to comply with both the Federal legislation and relevant State or Territory legislation.
The Union takes sexual harassment and other forms of harassment seriously and it will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
The following complaint procedures adopted by CEPU Communications Division set out the procedures to be followed in the event that a complaint of sexual harassment or harassment is made by or against any officer, employee or member of the Union.
Any person who makes a complaint of sexual harassment or harassment will be advised of their right to:
The objectives of the complaint procedures are to ensure that:
The Union's complaint procedures provide both informal and formal options for the resolution of a complaint. The option to be followed will be determined by the person making the complaint. A flow chart of the complaints procedure is at Attachment 1.
(a) Informal Process
Complaints involving criminal behaviour, behaviour which places others at risk, or behaviour which affects the union as a whole, must be handled formally, regardless of the complainant's wishes.
This should be explained to the complainant by any officer, employee or member of the union who is approached for advice.
(b) Formal Process
If an officer, employee or member of the Union chooses to attempt to resolve their complaint through the Union's formal internal procedure the following steps will be followed:
Note: An external person may be appointed to undertake the mediation/conciliation and/or investigation of a complaint.
At all stages of the complaint all parties must ensure that there is no undue delay in trying to resolve the complaint. The complainant and respondent must be kept advised of any delays in handling a complaint. .
Confidentiality is expected from the complainant, the respondent and anyone who is helping to resolve the complaint. Information regarding the complaint will only be disclosed to those who can assist in the resolution of the matter.
A complainant or respondent may be represented and/or supported by a third party of their choosing at any interview occurring as a result of the complaint.
If the Branch Secretary or Divisional Secretary is satisfied that the complaint is substantiated they may:
It is not always possible to substantiate a complaint, even if the complaint is justified. It needs to be clear to both parties that unsubstantiated may not mean that the incident did not occur. It may mean that no decision could be made because there was not enough information.
If a complaint cannot be substantiated the Branch Secretary or Divisional Secretary may counsel both parties, authorise increased monitoring or training or take any other action consistent with the rules of the CEPU.
The purpose of record keeping is to identify if or when there are patterns of behaviour or cultural problems within the union which should be addressed through appropriate training and or disciplinary action.
If a Branch Secretary or Divisional Secretary or their nominee has had advisory discussions with a complainant or has taken informal action on an individual's behalf a brief diary entry noting the incident, the area where it occurred and action taken must be kept.
If a formal complaint has been mediated/conciliated a record must be kept on a confidential file of the complaint and response, details of the mediation/conciliation and the outcome.
If a formal complaint has been investigated a full record is required, including statements provided by the parties, records of interview by the investigation officer with the parties and witnesses. Records must contain names, times, dates, details of specific incidents and frequency of occurrences.
If a formal complaint against an official or employee is found to be substantiated a summary of the complaint, the finding and the disciplinary action taken must be recorded in their personal file. This can be removed after a reasonable period of time if there has been no repetition of the behaviour.
All other documentation relating to the investigation must be kept in a sealed confidential file which can only be accessed with the authority of the Divisional Secretary (or nominee).
All records will need to be retained for a reasonable amount of time (i.e. 12 months) in the event that a complaint is subsequently lodged with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission or a State or Territory anti-discrimination agency.
Withdrawal of a complaint
A person who makes a complaint under the formal process has the right to withdraw it at any time.
Rejection of vexatious, frivolous or inappropriate complaints
The Branch Secretary or Divisional Secretary or their nominee may decline to continue to deal with a complaint:
The making vexatious or frivolous complaint is also misconduct. It could result in disciplinary action commensurate with that which could have been taken against the accused person, had the complaint been substantiated.