Resolving Workplace Issues

The information below is to help staff understand their options in dealing with workplace issues, which may involve complaints of bullying, discrimination, harassment and grievances. Staff are encouraged to read the information below to understand what is considered unacceptable behaviour in the workplace, and what avenues are available for addressing a workplace issue. Working together, we can eliminate unacceptable workplace behaviours maintain a safe, healthy and supportive work environment for everyone.

What is harassment?

Harassment can take many forms and can include inappropriate actions, behaviour, comments or physical contact that is unwanted and causes offence.  If you experience behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable, humiliated, intimidated, insulted or offended, then it may constitute harassment, whether it occurs only once or many times. Learn more >>

What is discrimination?

Unlawful discrimination occurs when someone, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group due to their: race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex, pregnancy, breastfeeding or marital status; age; disability; religion; sexual preference; trade union activity; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. Learn more >>

What is a grievance?

A grievance is a formal complaint from a staff member about treatment at the workplace which they perceive to be inequitable or procedurally unfair.  For example,  where a staff member was not allowed by their supervisor, to bring a support person or a staff representative to a meeting to discuss unsatisfactory performance, they may lodge a grievance, challenging the procedural fairness of the process in accordance with the University’s Workplace Grievance Policy and Procedure.  A grievance is a formal complaint that may relate to any aspect of a staff member’s employment with the University or any workplace issue that is believed to be wrong or unfair.  The Workplace Grievance Policy and Procedure covers how these concerns are addressed.  It is important to distinguish workplace grievance complaints from bullying complaints, so that the relevant University policy or process can be identified and applied to achieve a resolution.
Processes for Grievances, Disputes and Appeals >>

What is bullying?

A workplace bullying complaint is also grievance, but the complaint must clearly relate to behaviour that is repeated and unreasonable, is directed towards a person (or a group of people), and must create a risk to health, safety and wellbeing. The University has a separate policy on Workplace Bullying, which outlines the processes for dealing with bullying complaints.
Find out what you can do about workplace bullying >>

Resolution pathways for workplace issues

There are a number of ways, both informal and formal, that a workplace issue may be resolved. Wherever it is possible and safe, you should first attempt to resolve the complaint informally at the local and the lowest possible level, prior to lodging a formal complaint.  Learn more about options for addressing a workplace issue including Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms and formal complaints.
Resolution pathways >>

Where can I get advice on a workplace issue?

ACU supervisors who need advice on workplace issues should call the HR Advisory Service on ext 4222.
Staff members may wish to speak to appropriate
University officers, or to the Employment Relations – Staff Support Officer, for advice on the resolution pathways available and the outcomes that can be reasonably expected from the various pathways. See a list of University officers who can help you >>

Helpful resources

ACU has contracted with AccessEAP to provide free professional confidential counselling to staff members and their immediate family members. This can be particularly helpful for staff members involved in a workplace grievance or bullying issue.
Other resources are available to support you >>