Sunday, June 19, 2011

Don’t protect your staff from Harassment???

It is perhaps unsurprising that employers do such stupid things from time to time when you consider the quality of advice they can receive from their “professional advisors”.  A case in point is this load of old nonsense from solicitors Towers & Hamlins published on the “Inside Housing” website here regarding cyber harassment of employees by clients or residents. 
“...employers, including housing associations, have a duty of care to their staff. Richie Alder, partner at law firm Trowers & Hamlins, says they must demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to protect staff but are under no obligation to investigate harassment claims.
‘Reasonable steps could include putting a filter on emails for instance, and if necessary, reporting the matter to the police,’ he adds. ‘In most cases an employer would not be required to do anything in terms of investigation, although it might if it feels the organisation itself is under threat.’
So there is no duty or obligation for employers to investigate a complaint from one of its employees that they are being harassed by a client or resident?  Apart from this advice being  morally bankrupt, there is a clear and specific duty under health and safety legislation to risk assess in order to protect staff and then take action.  If any organisation fails to investigate harassment and this harasser then went on to harm or even murder an employee I would expect that employer to be charged under criminal law.  Putting not only that organisation at risk of fines but also possible imprisonment for individual managers and directors.  Furthermore huge fines can be levied on directors personally for such inaction and they will be liable to pay not the employer or any liability insurer. 
Needless to say – I am writing to Inside Housing.  
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