How to handle sensitive events | IMPAC health and safety

8 August, 2018  |  News

Dame Margaret Bazley’s recently published Russell McVeagh review – an investigation into the sexual harassment at the law firm and discovery of bullying and fear among lawyers about the consequences of speaking out – is leading to an interesting chain of events.

As NBR reports, in response to Dame Margaret’s review, WorkSafe has called a meeting with the country’s 8 major law firms, saying it wants to engage with and monitor what the firms are doing.

NBR goes on to remind readers that, under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers have a legal obligation to prevent psychosocial health risks as well as other forms of harm in their workplace.


joao silas 72563 unsplashDame Margaret reviewed the law firm over a 4-month period. Photo by João Silas on Unsplash.


Workplace bullying in the news

The Russell McVeagh scandal isn’t the only example of workplace harassment in the news right now. An Auckland employee has recently been awarded over $60,000 due to an unfair dismissal in 2015, following years of alleged bullying.

The worker raised his concerns of bullying from colleagues and unfair treatment from management, but an internal investigation ruled that the claims were unfounded.

The Employment Relations Authority found that the employer “failed to provide [the worker] with safe working conditions which affected his conditions of employment to his disadvantage.”


Recommendations and solution

Russell McVeagh addressed frequently asked questions about the review on their website. The first question is How could you not know about the harassment in your firm? And to that they have said, “That’s the big question we have to face up to. It’s not good enough we didn’t know – we believed we had a speak out culture, but this review clearly shows we were wrong to think that.”

One of Dame Margaret’s recommendations is that the firm puts in place a confidential mechanism for reports of bullying, and the process needs to have multiple options and pathways, with internal and external contact points.

This sounds like good guidance, but how can an organisation achieve this?

IMPAC health and safety software has a module to address these types of events. The module provides:

  • A confidential reporting mechanism for all staff
  • Multiple options for the type of events including bullying, psychological distress, harassment, discrimination, whistle blowing, and more
  • Secure pathways and notifications to specialist internal and external contact points

The benefits include:

  • The secure reporting shows you care and builds trust with employees
  • Increased confidence for employees and management
  • Encouraging a culture of accountability and respect
  • Better communication with employees

We call it the Sensitive Events Module and if you’re keen to know more, call our team on 0800 427 664 for a no-strings-attached chat to see if it’s right for your business.