Workers need to trust that they can report incidences of workplace harassment, without their confidentiality being compromised, share experts from Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).
This article is brought to you by TAFEP.
There has been a spate of workplace harassment incidents reported in the media in recent times. This has opened the space for greater dialogue on this important issue, including what can be done to build safe and harassment-free workplaces.
Based on the workplace harassment reports that TAFEP has investigated into in the past two years, more can be done upstream within companies.
Employers and the HR community have a key role to play in stamping out workplace harassment, and making workplaces safe for all. By taking a proactive approach to address workplace harassment, and requiring accountability from all parties involved, employers provide their workers greater confidence that any workplace harassment incident will be dealt with fairly and responsibly. Employers would also be in a better position to respond, if and when such incidents are reported to TAFEP.
The following are key upstream measures that employers should adopt:
First, implement and communicate the company’s zero-tolerance policy towards workplace harassment. This mandate should come from the top. Business leaders and the management team should consistently “walk the talk”, and reinforce this zero-tolerance stance at employee briefings, town halls, and even in the process of managing actual incidents.
Second, put in place safe and effective channels for grievance and workplace harassment reporting. The Tripartite Advisory on Managing Workplace Harassment outlines key principles for employers to keep in mind:
- Confidentiality: Workers need to trust that they can report incidences of workplace harassment, without their confidentiality being compromised.
- Neutrality: In establishing a harassment reporting line, care must be taken to ensure that the channels include neutral parties who are not directly involved and have no conflict of interest in the case.
- Non-retaliation: This could mean giving workers the assurance that there will not be negative repercussions, such as consequences on their appraisal or performance ranking, upon making a report.
Third, build up confidence in your company’s grievance handling system and the management of harassment reports, such as how they are investigated and followed up on. Employers should promptly follow up on all harassment complaints, and document each step of the investigation process. A timeline should be established and communicated to all parties involved. This includes updating them on the progress and findings/ outcome of the investigation.
The final step of ensuring proper closure of the harassment incident, and preventing recurrence, is just as important. Beyond taking appropriate disciplinary action against the harasser in cases where workplace harassment was established, employers should also provide adequate support to the affected individual, such as re-deployment of the harasser, providing access to counselling, and availing interim options such as additional leave or flexibility to work from home during the investigation and/or recovery period.
It takes a determined effort within the organisation to combat workplace harassment. Fortunately, support is available for employers on this journey to develop a robust anti-workplace harassment regime for their companies. TAFEP has worked with various partners to develop resources in this area, and these are available online for employers to utilise.
With employers playing their part, we can build safe and harassment-free workplaces that enable employees to focus on contributing their best at work.
TAFEP Workplace Harassment Resource and Recourse Centre provides advice and assistance to employers and affected individuals on workplace harassment matters. Contact tafep.sg or call 6838 0969.
This article first appeared in the Q1 edition of Human Resources Online's Southeast Asia e-magazine. View a copy of the e-magazine here, where you'll find power-packed features and interviews with leaders from Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, the US, and more!