Workplace Support/Contact Officers
The role of the Workplace Support/Contact Officer is an important one which should not be confused with the role of a professional counsellor or mediator.
Workplace Support/Contact Officers
- are an important first point of contact for people who believe they have an issue in the workplace. Issues may relate to discrimination, harassment, bullying or other workplace concerns.
- are staff who are trained to provide other staff with confidential information and support to address discrimination, harassment and/or bullying in the workplace.
- have access to information about complaint resolution options within and outside the organisation and provide support to persons in making informed decisions about how best to address the grievance.
Workplace Support/Contact Officers duties may involve:
- Listening to the individual and acting as a support person
- Explaining and providing information about what constitutes discrimination, harassment and bullying.
- Providing information about the options available to deal with the individual’s concerns and the likely results of these
- Informing the individual of rights under Tasmanian and Federal equal opportunity law
- Discussing possible strategies the individual can use to deal directly with the other person
- Informing the individual about counselling and other support services if necessary
- Referring individuals who decide to make a formal complaint to the appropriate person for investigation
- Providing general information and copies of organisational equal opportunity policies and complaint procedures to any member of staff
- Promoting the role of the Workplace Support/Contact Officer throughout the organisation
Workplace Support/Contact officers have knowledge in the following areas.
- Internal EEO/grievance policies and procedure of an organisation
- Strategies for dealing with and assisting in the resolution of grievances
- These policies and procedures will outline exactly how complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying are dealt with in the particular workplace.
Display their details
It doesn’t matter how many Workplace Support/Contact Officers your organisation has if no-one knows who they are or what they do! Organisations should display or make available the names and contact numbers of all their trained Workplace Support/Contact Officers.
Confidentiality must be maintained throughout the grievance process.
The Workplace Support/Contact Officer is not employed to be a Workplace Support/Contact Officer, it is an add-on role to their main job/position.
It is never appropriate for a Workplace Support/Contact Officer to ignore a grievance/complaint. All matters should be dealt with immediately or referred to an appropriate authority.
Workplace Support/Contact Officers may provide information and support to either party involved, they must not take sides or try to act or speak for the complainant or the respondent, this ensures that the conflict is a constructive process that leads to positive change in ways that respect the dignity of everyone involved.
It is completely the complainant’s choice as to which option, or options, they take to resolve their grievance/complaint.
Obligation to take reasonable steps
The Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (the Act) is pro-active, requiring managers and staff not to discriminate, sexually harass or victimise others.
Under Section 104 of the Act, every organisation has an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure its members, officers, employees and agents are aware of and do not engage in, repeat or continue discrimination and prohibited conduct.
Additionally the Act says that an organisation that does not comply with Section 104 is liable for any contravention of the Act committed by any of its members, officers, employees and agents.
Appointing Workplace Support/Contact Officers and training them may be one of the ways to meet Section 104 obligations.
Equal Opportunity Tasmania offers training and networking meetings for Workplace support/contact officers. Training is designed to suit individuals and organisations, delivered in-house or on-site at your place of work.