Unlawful workplace discrimination under the general protections in the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) occurs when an employer takes adverse action against a person who is an employee or prospective employee because of one or more of the following attributes of the person:
- Sexual orientation
- Physical or mental disability
- Marital status
- Family or carer’s responsibilities
- Political opinion
- National extraction or social origin
Where an investigation finds that the employer has (or had) discriminatory practices that are linked to adverse actions for employees or prospective employees, the Fair Work Ombudsman may take enforcement action.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is the principle that everyone should have equal access to employment opportunities based on merit. This access to equal employment should be without fear of discrimination or harassment playing a role in decision-making in the area of employment. Therefore, many Australian employers develop EEO policies to promote workplace diversity and create a safe workplace for all employees. Likewise, it is best for all employers to have such a policy, regardless of the business’ size.
This is where workplace training and induction training comes in.
Training should be offered for existing workers on a regular basis in addition to being introduced at the induction training for all new employees.
Induction training for workers should include information on:
- The standards of behaviour expected in the workplace including the use of social media if relevant
- How workplace bullying, Sexual Harassment Discrimination and Equal Opportunities breaches should be reported and how such reports are managed
- Where to go for more information and assistance.
A continuous training program should cover:
- Awareness of the impact certain behaviours can have on others
- The work health and safety duties and responsibilities relating to Discrimination and Equal Opportunities
- Measures used to prevent and Discrimination and Equal Opportunities breaches from occurring
- How individuals can respond to Discrimination and Equal Opportunities breaches
- How to report and Discrimination and Equal Opportunities breaches
- How Discrimination and Equal Opportunities reports will be responded to including timeframes.
Use our and Discrimination and Equal Opportunities video as you induct new employees into your business and also assign them to reading and agreeing to the associated policies. This way you as a business have taken all reasonable steps to ensure and there is no Discrimination, and you have Equal Opportunities in your workplace and you have made your expectations clear. Along with this is the ongoing conversations as well as dealing with any instances of potential or actual Discrimination and Equal Opportunities breaches quickly and in a timely manner. You can’t really afford not to.