May 2014

5 – 11 May 2014

Canberra Times

The Public Service Commission’s latest report identified ethical leadership and workplace bullying as primary issues to be addressed. New measures have been introduced to stop bullying behaviour. APS staff have existing rights to bring bullying complaints to their agency’s leaders for code of conduct breaches. The commission says 43% of the employees who felt bullied made a formal complaint. The commission did not recommend that the APS employ a highly formal approach to address alleged bullying, because resolving every complaint through formal misconduct procedures can be unhelpful. In 2013 one in six APS employees felt they had been bullied. The commission’s report directly links bullying to reduced labour productivity, as well as to health, well being and employee engagement.

The Age

The Bank of Queensland is removing gender from its job application process in an attempt to attract more women to senior roles. All identifying factors such as name, age, gender and address will be removed from resumes. The move is designed to address unconscious bias in candidate selection. Mr Doyle, the general manager, said the extent of bias was difficult to quantify, but was reflected in the number of women in executive positions. Mr Doyle conceded that the system would only work with external job applications. He said, ‘this is only successful when you’re taking resumes from external recruiters, because the agency will ‘clean’ an application before it comes to my people.’

The Guardian

Some guards knew part of the Manus detention centre as a ‘rape dungeon’, a former Salvation Army worker has alleged. Other submissions make allegations of inadequate medical care, poor workplace safety and fears of violent attacks from local staff. Nicole Judge, another Salvation Army worker said some G4S expatriate officers would act inappropriately and sexually harass her. Submissions are being made to a Senate inquiry with a number of them delivering scathing assessments of the facility.

Business Insider

GitHub’s CEO Chris Wanstrath apologised for not being transparent about an internal investigation into allegations that former employee Ms Horvath was sexually harassed. The investigation found no evidence to support the claims against the former CEO and his wife of sexual or gender based harassment or retaliation, or of having a sexist or hostile work environment. A third party investigator was hired and found:
• Former CEO Mr Preston-Werner acted inappropriately
• There was no evidence of a sexist or discriminatory environment; and
• There was no information to suggest retaliation against Ms Horvath for making sex/gender harassment complaints

The Guardian

A Navy abuse report of the ADF alleges 210 recruits were raped at WA base from 1960 to 1980. The information was presented as part of the parliamentary report from the Australian Defence Abuse Response Taskforce. The report outlined allegations of serious and disturbing patterns of abuse and mismanagement. The allegations include complaints of sexual abuse by staff members and abuse by other junior recruits – often in the context of hazing or initiation. The taskforce was set up after a young female cadet was filmed having sex without her knowledge.

Canberra Times

The ACT government failed to properly investigate allegations that senior ambulance staff bullied a paramedic. The findings from the work safety regulator have prompted union calls for an external body to be brought in to help break the protection ring in the service. Work Safe ACT found the Justice and Community Safety Directorate has failed to meet its duties under federal work health and safety laws by not investigating the complaint. The ACT has acted on the findings and has confirmed the investigation will now take place. Work Safe did not investigate the substance of the complaint itself.

Smart Company

The NSWIRC has reinstated a public servant who was fired after groping five women at his work Christmas party. The commission found Mr McCaskill, a project officer with the Department of Justice was treated more harshly than a senior manager who was only demoted. McCaskill had admitted to touching the breasts of 5 female co-workers at the Christmas party and that he disclosed confidential information to a colleague telling her she had not been successful in her application for a position. McCaskill apologised to the women and said he had not intended to offend any of them and that he was appalled and ashamed by his behaviour. He argued the decision to fire him was made without consideration of mitigating factors and past good conduct. Commissioner Tabbaa found McCaskill’s behaviour was deplorable but the penalty of dismissal was harsh when assessed against the penalty meted out to the other senior manager. She found reinstatement was not impracticable because he had continued in his role after the incident and maintained a ‘cordial’ relationship with three of the five women. McCaskill was reinstated with certain provisions.

Smart Company

The Federal Court has awarded a photographer $174,000 in compensation after finding she was subjected to pregnancy discrimination by her employer Piccoli Photography. Ms Sagona was forced to resign from her job as a result of Piccoli’s response to her pregnancy. She was informed that she would need to take long service leave and that if she wished to return to work whilst pregnant she could only do so in a ‘behind the scenes capacity’. She was told that ‘it was not a good look’ for customers to see pregnant woman working in the business and this would make the Piccolis look like they were slave drivers. She was also told she would look desperate if she worked while she was noticeably pregnant and her pay would be cut, as she would no longer be generating any income for the business. Judge Whelan found Ms Sagona had no choice but to resign.

Smart Company

Fairfax reports the ATO is cracking down on its employees dressing inappropriately for work, with staff cautioned for wearing ‘revealing’ or ‘immodest’ outfits as well as items deemed too casual for the workplace. Staff at a Sydney office have been ordered to go home and change into different outfits while another Newcastle office has been informed they will be sent home if their appearance does not improve. Employees dressing too casually or immodestly are impacting on the perceptions of the professionalism of the ATO.