Policies must be properly implemented and consistently enforced to protect employers

A recent employment law case before the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT), Cooper v. Western Area Local Health Network [2012] NSWADT 39, emphasised why employment law policies are important and the risks of having insufficient employment law policies.

The case involved an employee taking action against a co-worker and their employer for alleged sexual harassment under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW). In essence, the employer, to avoid vicarious liability, needed to show that it had taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent the behaviour.

The decision of the ADT has reinforced that an employer MUST:

  • make their employees aware of their policies and procedures
  • train employees about those policies and procedures and implement them into the workplace and provide further training (as needed) whenever they are altered
  • ensure their policies and procedures are consistent with current workplace law (noting that legislation and case law frequently change)
  • properly and promptly investigate alleged breaches of policies and procedures
  • properly and consistently enforce policies and procedures, discipline employees found to have breached them, and support complainants

As such, a policy or procedure set out on paper is NOT sufficient if it is not supported by what happens in practice. All employers must therefore ENSURE they meet each of the above commitments if they are to have a strong chance of establishing they took ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent the behaviour.

More Information

Employment lawyers Sydney can provide practical employment law advice to ensure your workplace practice, policies and procedures are consistent with current workplace law.

Please call the leading employment lawyers in Parramatta, the Matthews Folbigg Workplace Solutions team on 9635-7966 to speak with one of our employment lawyers about your employment law issues.