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Does your business have a code of conduct?

At McNamara Law we have assisted our clients to develop workplace values and a Code of Conduct that is used to set the standards expected from all employees.

We have also acted in many workplace bullying and harassment matters and have begun to notice that many workplaces still do not have in place a set standard of workplace values or a Code of Conduct that would usually be in place to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace.

A Code of Conduct is a document that sets out the expected behavioural and ethical standards for employees in a particular situation. Because every business is different, there is no ‘one shoe fits all’ Code and each need to be tailored depending on the business’s industry and requirements.

In most cases a Code of Conduct might have policies on:

  • Employee relationships with co-workers and clients;
  • Confidential information;
  • Drug and alcohol use;
  • Discrimination;
  • Quality of work and work performance;
  • Internet, personal mobile phone, and email use;
  • Business ethics and conflicts of interest;
  • Dress codes; and
  • Health and safety.

The Code of Conduct should outline that breaches of the Code may result in disciplinary action.

Of interest was the recent case of John Keron v Westpac Banking Corporation [2022] FWC 221 which related to an employer hosted training event, followed by drinks. Two incidents arose that night involving inappropriate touching of a female colleague – touching her buttocks and waist, and that same female employee earlier rubbing his back, and leaning into him after the inappropriate contact.

A second incident occurred later where he was denied entry to a casino which resulted in the use of expletives and offensive.

Termination of employed ensued, and the Commission was asked to consider the workplace policies on conduct.

Once it has been developed there should then be a system in place for regular review and updates, particularly considering the ever changing landscape of employment law.

If your business does not have a Code of Conduct in place, or needs a refresher of the current Code of Conduct, contact one of our employment lawyers for tailored advice on 1300 258 888.

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