New Codes of Practice on workplace harassment and pay inequality published
The Code of Practice on Harassment and Sexual Harassment replaced the previous code of practice on the same matter issued by the Equality Authority in 2002. It contains many of the same provisions together with some updates to address harassment via social media and the need to adhere to data protection legislation. It also includes some additional suggestions for inclusion in workplace dignity at work or bullying and harassment policies.
The code states that workplace policies should now include a statement encouraging employees to challenge harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace.
It provides for some organisations (depending on size and other factors) to designate a champion at senior level, outside the HR structure. This champion would be “an independent voice advocating for a diverse workplace culture free of harassment where all employees feel respected.” The code recognises that it will not be feasible for all organisations to appoint such a champion given their size and resources.
As with the previous code of practice, there is a requirement that a competent person monitor relevant workplace policies. The updated code adds that such person must have appropriate qualifications, training and experience – although it does add that support for this role could be provided by a competent person outside the relevant organisation.
While the previous code required that policies point out the statutory time limits for making complaints under the EEA, the new code adds that the policy should clearly state that these time limits will not be paused pending the outcome of the internal investigation.
There code suggests that workplace procedures include additional references regarding procedural fairness throughout investigation. Matters such as the provision of notice, relevant disclosures, opportunity to comment and other procedural accommodations (such as appointment of an advocate or interpreter) are suggested. The code also states that where the accused person objects to the person(s) appointed to investigate the complaint, such objection should be given proper consideration.
The code also suggests that workplace procedures reference the possibility of interim arrangements being put in place pending outcome of investigation. Such interim arrangements could include alternative line management structure, change of workstations, or requesting the complainant and/or alleged perpetrator to stay at home on fully paid leave.
The code adds that both parties to a complaint should be given appropriate support and follow-up following the investigation as the process is likely to result in tension and disharmony between the parties, co-employees, work teams and others, at least in the short-term.
Code of Practice on Equal Pay
IHREC has also issued an updated Code of Practice on Equal Pay. This code of practice includes an extensive summary of the legislative provisions on equal pay and will be a useful resource to employers.
Of particular note will be the detailed guidance on the carrying out of pay reviews and the incorporation of job evaluation models within an organisation. Steps such as the collection of job data, analysis of jobs, analysis of pay data and implementing corrective measures where concerns are identified are suggested in the code of practice.