This policy applies to all staff including contractors and covers all work-related functions and activities including external training courses sponsored by Verve Partners.
It also applies for all recruitment, selection and promotion decisions.
The objective of Verve Partners’ Equal Opportunity Policy is to improve Verve Partners’ success by:
- attracting and retaining the best possible employees
- providing a safe, respectful and flexible work environment
- delivering our services in a safe, respectful and reasonably flexible way
Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Bullying
Verve Partners is committed to providing a workplace free from discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. Behaviour that constitutes discrimination, sexual harassment or bullying will not be tolerated and will lead to action being taken, which may include dismissal.
For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:
Direct discrimination in employment occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another in their employment because of a reason or ground which is prohibited by law. The prohibited grounds of discrimination are set by out in the (Federal, State and Territory anti-discrimination laws) and include sex, race, age etc. A full list of the grounds of discrimination which operate federally and in the State and/or Territories in which employees undertake their work for Verve Partners will be relevant and are listed below.
- Race (including colour, nationality, descent, ethnic, ethno-religious or national origin)
- Pregnancy (including potential pregnancy)
- Carers’ responsibilities, family responsibilities, carer or parental status, being childless
- Industrial/trade union membership, non-membership or activity
- Employer association membership, non-membership or activity
- Religious belief, affiliation, conviction or activity
- Marital status, domestic status, relationship status
- Homosexuality, transsexuality, sexuality, sexual preference/orientation, lawful sexual activity, gender identity
- Disability/impairment, including physical, mental and intellectual disability
- Age (including compulsory retirement)
- Political belief, opinion, affiliation, conviction or activity
Indirect Discrimination occurs when a rule seems neutral but has a discriminatory impact on certain people. For example, a minimum height requirement of 6 foot for a particular job might be applied equally to men and women, but would indirectly discriminate on the basis of sex, as women tend to be shorter than men.
Discrimination also includes the situation where an employee harasses another person based on a ground of discrimination. Harassment is unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would expect to offend, humiliate, or intimidate.
Vilification is a public act which incites hatred, severe contempt or severe ridicule of a person or group, because of race, homosexuality, transgender, transsexuality, or HIV/AIDS. Vilification is a particularly serious breach of EEO laws and will be dealt with accordingly.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Conduct can amount to sexual harassment even if the person did not intend to offend, humiliate or intimidate the other person. However, conduct will not be sexual harassment if a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would not have anticipated that the conduct would offend, humiliate or intimidate the other person. Sexual harassment does not have to be directed at a particular individual to be unlawful. Behaviour which creates a hostile working environment for other employees can also be unlawful. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal or written. It can include:
- comments about a person’s private life or the way they look
- sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring
- brushing up against someone, touching, fondling, or hugging
- sexually suggestive comments or jokes
- displaying offensive screen savers, photos, calendars or objects
- repeated requests to go out
- requests for sex
- sexually explicit emails, text messages or posts on social networking sites.
Sexual harassment is against the law and some types of sexual harassment can also be a criminal offence. These include indecent exposure, stalking and sexual assault, as well as obscene or threatening phone calls, letters, emails, text messages and posts on social networking sites.
A single incident is enough to constitute sexual harassment – it doesn’t have to be repeated.
Sexual Harassment is now also extensively dealt with under the Fair Work Act 2009 after it was amended by way of the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022. As of 6 March 2023, it will be prohibited under the Fair Work Act 2009 for a person to sexually harass another person in connection with work. This will include sexually harassing a person who is:
(a) a worker in a business or undertaking; or
(b) seeking to become a worker in a particular business or undertaking; or
(c) a person conducting a business or undertaking.
This will be a civil remedy provision meaning that a person who engages in the sexual harassment could face significant fines/penalties if a Court determines the sexual harassment took place.
All forms of sexual harassment are prohibited by Verve Partners and will be considered misconduct and dealt with accordingly.
Workplace bullying may include behaviour that is directed toward an employee, or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety e.g. physical and/or verbal abuse, excluding or isolating individuals; or giving impossible tasks.
Verve Partners provides equal opportunity in employment to people without discrimination based on a personal characteristic protected under state and federal equal opportunity legislation.
Under State legislation they include:
- carer status
- employment activity
- gender identity
- industrial activity
- lawful sexual activity
- marital status
- parental status
- personal association with someone having any of these characteristics
- physical features
- political activity/belief
- religious activity/belief
- sexual orientation
Any employee found to have contravened this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include dismissal as outlined in the complaint procedure below.
Employees must report any behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination to their manager.
Employees will not be victimised or treated unfairly for raising an issue or making a complaint.
Reasonable adjustments are changes that allow people with a disability to work safely and productively.
Verve Partners will make reasonable adjustments for a person with a disability who:
- applies for a job, is offered employment, or is an employee, and
- requires the adjustments in order to participate in the recruitment process or perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job.
Examples of reasonable adjustments can include:
- reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting the performance requirements of the job
- arranging flexibility in work hours (see ‘Flexible work arrangements’)
- providing telephone typewriter (TTY) phone access for employees with hearing or speech impairments
- purchasing screen reading software for employees with a vision impairment
- approving more regular breaks for people with chronic pain or fatigue
- buying desks with adjustable heights for people using a wheelchair.
When thinking about reasonable adjustments Verve Partners will weigh up the need for change with the expense or effort involved in making it. If making the adjustment means a very high cost or great disruption to the workplace, it is not likely to be reasonable.
In some cases, Verve Partners can discriminate on the basis of disability, if:
- the adjustments needed are not reasonable, or
- the person with the disability could not perform the genuine and reasonable requirements of the job even if the adjustments were made.
Procedure: To make a complaint
If you believe you are being, or have been, discriminated against, sexually harassed or bullied, you should follow this procedure.
- Tell the offender the behaviour is offensive, unwelcome, and against Verve Partners policy and should stop (only if you feel comfortable enough to approach them directly, otherwise speak to your manager). Keep a written record of the incident(s).
- If the unwelcome behaviour continues, contact your supervisor or manager for support.
- If this is inappropriate, you feel uncomfortable, or the behaviour persists, contact another relevant senior manager. Employees may also lodge a complaint with the NSW Anti-discrimination Board, the Australian Human Rights Commission, or take action under the Fair Work Act 2009.
Employees should feel confident that any complaint they make is to be treated as confidential as far as possible.
Procedure: To receive a complaint
When a manager receives a complaint or becomes aware of an incident that may contravene Verve Partners EEO Policies, they should follow this procedure.
- Notify the director of Verve Partners immediately;
- Listen to the complaint seriously and treat the complaint confidentially. Allow the complainant to bring another person to the interview if they choose to.
- Ask the complainant for the full story, including what happened, step by step.
- Take notes, using the complainant’s own words.
- Ask the complainant to check your notes to ensure your record of the conversation is accurate.
- Explain and agree on the next action with the complainant.
- If investigation is not requested (and the manager is satisfied that the conduct complained is not in breach of Verve Partners EEO policies) then the manager should:
- act promptly
- maintain confidentiality
- pass any notes on to the manager’s manager
If an investigation is requested or is appropriate, follow the next procedure.
Procedure: To investigate a complaint
When a manager investigates a complaint, they should follow this procedure.
- Do not assume guilt.
- Advise on the potential outcomes of the investigation if the allegations are substantiated.
- Interview all directly concerned, separately.
- Interview witnesses, separately.
- Keep records of interviews and the investigation.
- Interview the alleged harasser, separately and confidentially and let the alleged harasser know exactly of what they are being accused. Give them a chance to respond to the accusation. Make it clear they do not have to answer any questions; however, the manager will still make a decision regardless.
- Listen carefully and record details.
- Ensure confidentiality, minimise disclosure.
- Decide on appropriate action based on the investigation and evidence collected.
- Check to ensure the action meets the needs of the complainant and Verve Partners.
- If the resolution is not immediately possible, refer the complainant to more senior management. If the resolution needs a more senior manager’s authority, refer the complainant to this manager.
- Discuss any outcomes affecting the complainant with them to make sure where appropriate you meet their needs.
If after investigation management finds the complaint is justified, management will discuss with the complainant the appropriate outcomes which may include:
- disciplinary action to be taken against the perpetrator (counselling, warning or dismissal)
- staff training
- additional training for the perpetrator or all staff, as appropriate
- counselling for the complainant
- an apology (the particulars of such an apology to be agreed between all involved)
Clare Ferguson – Director