100 Complaints of Bullying to WorkSafe NZ but Zero Prosecutions
In recent times the #MeToo Movement has created a lot of noise in the media which has raised awareness in terms of inappropriate behaviours and actions being demonstrated by some within the workplace. As a result of this movement, we have seen an increase in Employees coming forward and raising complaints when they believe they are being subjected to inappropriate behaviours and actions within the workplace.
However, just because someone believes they are being bullied or harassed, does not always mean that they are. Between 2013 – 2017 WorkSafe NZ received 100 complaints of bullying however, in almost half of the complaints no actions were taken by WorkSafe. The remainder of the complaints, 42 were referred to other Organisations and nine (9) were investigated. However, WorkSafe never prosecuted anyone for bullying.
WorkSafe has stated that “while no prosecution took place in those nine (9) cases, you can be very sure engagement and education did occur. Our response to any incident or allegation must be proportionate to the harm. Taking someone through to a full legal process must meet certain standards for legal prosecution.”
When an Employer receives a complaint, they must take it seriously and investigate it. If it is found that an Employer has failed to take the complaint seriously, they could be found to have breached their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Although WorkSafe may not have prosecuted anyone for bullying, this does not negate your obligations as an Employer to provide your Employees with a safe and healthy working environment and to take their concerns seriously. Therefore, if you do receive a complaint and would like some advice in respect of the investigation process or would like us to independently investigate the complaint feel free to give us a call, we would be happy to help.