Policy for Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti Harassment, Sexual Harassment & Bullying

Policy for Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti Harassment, Sexual Harassment & Bullying - Temporary Workers


Hays is committed to ensuring the provision of a safe and respectable working environment for all of its workers, free from discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and other unacceptable and/or unlawful behaviour.

All workers are required to be treated with dignity, courtesy and respect. Any breaches of this policy will be taken seriously and may result in disciplinary action including termination.

To minimise safety risk, our aim is to address and resolve any reported concerns or issues that arise as quickly as is reasonably practicable. Mandatory Aftercare calls between consultants and temporary workers offers an additional opportunity for either party to raise and discuss any potential issues or concerns.


This policy is applicable to Hays temporary workers across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) and to Hays Consultants (who place temporary workers).

Unacceptable Workplace Conduct

Discrimination, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and occupational violence or aggression are unacceptable to Hays and are also unlawful under the following legislation:

Australian Legislation

  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA)

New Zealand

  • Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • Human Rights Act 1993
  • Employment Relations Act 2000
  • Harassment Act 1997

Workers found to have engaged in such unacceptable conduct may be subject to counselling, warning or disciplinary action including potential termination.

Timely verbal or written reporting of incidents of such unlawful behaviour is very important. Temporary workers who experience or witness unacceptable and/or unlawful behaviours including those contained in this policy should take appropriate action to report the behaviour in a timely manner to their Hays Consultant. All reports of unlawful behaviour will be treated seriously and empathetically by Hays.

When and where can discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, violence or aggression occur?

All workers are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a professional and lawful manner. Unlawful behaviour is unacceptable not only during normal working hours in the workplace but can also include attendance at work-related:

  • Conferences
  • Off-site functions
  • Training
  • Christmas parties
  • Business trips or meetings
  • Internet, social media, networking sites, email, and text messages

Discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, violence or aggression can occur between co-workers, site manager/supervisors, clients, Hays consultants or other third parties.

It does not matter that there is no intention to discriminate, harass, sexually harass, bully or be violent or aggressive. If an act has caused or should reasonably have been expected to have caused that effect, it may still amount to unacceptable and/or unlawful behaviour.

Such behaviour will not be tolerated in any work-related environment and will be taken seriously.

Hays will provide appropriate support to temporary workers who are harassed, discriminated against, bullied, or subjected to violent or aggressive behaviour.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Hays is an equal employment opportunity employer and is committed to making all recruitment and job selection decisions based on merit – the skills and abilities of all workers will be measured against the inherent requirements of the position and not against an individual’s personal characteristics.


Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by law, such as sex, age, race or disability. Discrimination can be direct or indirect.

Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another because of a personal characteristic that is protected under anti-discrimination laws.

Examples may include:

  • Not considering a person for a position because of their gender
  • Firing a worker because of pregnancy

Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs when a work requirement, condition or practice appears to be the same for all workers, but actually disadvantages certain people because of a personal characteristic that is protected under anti-discrimination laws. To constitute discrimination, the work requirement must also be unreasonable.

One example may include:

  • Imposing a policy that no temporary worker can be placed on a part-time basis as this may disadvantage people with carer’s responsibilities


Unlawful harassment occurs when a person is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated on the basis of a protected characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights laws. Behaviours that could amount to harassment, but are not limited to, can include:

  • Repeated, unwanted comments about a person's religious or political beliefs
  • Repeated, unwanted name calling
  • Jokes, suggestive comments or offensive gestures related to a person’s disability, religious conviction, ethnic or sexual characteristics
  • Distribution or display of material regarded as offensive
  • Persistent questions about a person’s private life
  • Repeated, unwanted and deliberate physical contact
  • Indecent assault or other criminal offences

Such behaviour is unacceptable to Hays.

What is not harassment?

Work conversations will not always be easy. All workers should manage conversations respectfully and where appropriate, sensitively in all dealings with their colleagues.

It is important to distinguish between harassment and reasonable behaviours required to effectively carry out a role. For example, legitimate comment, providing advice and stating a difference of opinion do not generally constitute harassment. Relevant constructive feedback from managers and supervisors on the work performance or work-related behaviour of an individual or group is also not harassment.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature that makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended. Sexual harassment can take many different forms and may include:

  • Sexually explicit conversations
  • Distribution or display of material regarded as sexually offensive
  • Persistent questions or insinuations about a person’s private life
  • Demands for sexual favours, either directly or by implication
  • Uninvited deliberate physical contact
  • Smutty jokes or comments
  • Repeated invitations to go out after prior refusal

Sexual harassment is unacceptable to Hays and is also unlawful according to anti-discrimination laws in Australia and New Zealand.

What is not sexual harassment?

It is important to distinguish between sexual harassment and behaviour which is based on mutual attraction, friendship and respect. If the interaction is consensual, welcomed or reciprocated, it is not sexual harassment.


Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour by an individual or group that could reasonably be considered to be humiliating, intimidating, threatening, demeaning or victimising to a person or a group of people, which subsequently creates a risk to health and safety. Inappropriate behaviour should be addressed, although isolated incidents do not usually constitute bullying

Acts of bullying can be direct or indirect.

Direct bullying

Examples of direct bullying behaviour may include:

  • Abusive, insulting or offensive language
  • Physical assault or threats
  • Behaviour or language perceived as frightening, intimidating, humiliating, threatening, degrading or victimising
  • Teasing or making someone the brunt of practical jokes
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Interfering with someone’s personal property or work equipment

Indirect bullying

  • Deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities
  • Unfairly assigning unpleasant tasks or overloading a person with work
  • Withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
  • Intimidating a person through inappropriate personal comments or belittling opinions
  • Excessive scrutiny of work
  • Unfair or excessive criticism
  • Unfair treatment in relation to access to workplace entitlements, such as leave or training

In Australia, bullying is unlawful according to the Fair Work Act 2009 as well as workplace health and safety laws. Where the bullying behaviour involves elements of discrimination, it is also unlawful according to federal, state and territory anti-discrimination laws. In New Zealand bullying breaches human rights, employment and health and safety laws.

Any type of bullying is unacceptable to Hays.

What is not bullying?

It is important to distinguish between workplace bullying and appropriate, reasonable behaviour that is carried out to achieve high work performance. The following are examples of what behaviour is not bullying:

  • Reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner
  • Setting performance goals, standards and deadlines
  • Allocating work to a worker
  • Providing constructive feedback
  • Expressing a difference of opinion in a respectful manner
  • Informing a worker about unsatisfactory work performance or inappropriate behaviour
  • Performance management processes
  • Implementing organisational changes

Occupational Violence or Aggression

Occupational violence or aggression typically involves incidents in which an individual is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising during the course of their work. Examples can include:

  • Yelling, swearing or calling names
  • Threateningly standing over someone
  • Threats of violence
  • Any form of indecent physical contact

Hays is committed to ensuring that workers are not adversely impacted by occupational violent or aggressive behaviour – such behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.


It is the responsibility of all Hays employees and temporary workers to understand and adhere to this policy and the applied principles and legislation relating to equal opportunity, harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, violent or aggressive behaviour in the workplace.

Temporary Worker

This includes ensuring that any associated unlawful behaviour temporary workers may witness or be subjected to is reported to their Hays consultant in an appropriate, confidential and timely manner.

Consultant (of temporary workers)

  • Partner with temporary workers and clients to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable a safe workplace that is professional, productive and free from inappropriate and/or unlawful behaviour
  • Provide an effective opportunity for temporary workers to escalate any concerns
  • Deal with complaints promptly, confidentially and empathetically in consultation with all relevant stakeholders including the temporary worker, the client, Hays Health & Safety team and if required any external Regulator
  • Ensure that all temporary workers are familiar with this policy and have completed the relevant health & safety module outlining how to address discrimination, bullying and harassment accordingly

State/Territory/Country Health & Safety Manager

  • Provide technical support and guidance to consultants, temporary workers, Regional Directors and other key stakeholders as and when required to ensure that any issues are brought to a satisfactory resolution as far as is reasonably practicable
  • Escalate actual or potential risk of physical or psychological injury to the temporary worker to the Regional Director and Regional Managing Director whilst working through the issues
  • Proactively keep the Head of Health & Safety – Australia and New Zealand updated with any ongoing cases associated with Discrimination Bullying and Harassment affecting temporary workers
  • Escalate to the Head of Health & Safety of cases for further consideration where required
  • Liaise with regional Health & Safety Regulators on associated matters as and when required

Head of Health & Safety – Australia and New Zealand

  • Ensure that all relevant parties are involved in issue resolution as and when required
  • Ensure other technical expertise is sought as and when required
  • Liaise with Health & Safety Regulators on associated matters that could potentially impact Hays across Australia and New Zealand 
  • Ensure this Policy is regularly reviewed and kept up to date and promoted to key stakeholders

Regional Director

  • Support Health & Safety Teams in their resolution of any issues associated with unlawful behaviour involving temporary workers
  • Ensure that all consultants under their management receive appropriate training and information on how to identify and effectively manage issues of anti-bullying and harassment regarding their temporary workers 

Issue Resolution

Instances of associated unlawful behaviour can vary widely in nature requiring a flexible approach to find the most appropriate solution which may necessitate the involvement of several key stakeholders to resolve an issue or concern.

Where an issue is identified either from a temporary worker or client, the following will take place:

  • Gather and record key information about the temporary worker’s concern and try to establish what has taken place
  • Escalate the issue to the Health & Safety Team outlining the nature of the concern. Where there is an actual or potential risk of physical or psychological injury to the temporary worker the H&S team will make the relevant Regional Managing Director aware
  • Agree who will be managing the complaint process, investigating what has taken place and work to outline an action plan to expedite a resolution

Where relevant and based on the nature of the issues raised, potential solutions may include:

  • Mediation between the temporary worker and the alleged perpetrator with prior approval from the client, temporary worker and individual to whom the allegations are being made against
  • Potentially reassigning the temporary worker to another role either with the same client or even a completely different client
  • Providing appropriate training to involved parties
  • Offering the Hays Employee Assistance Programme as support to the temporary worker
  • Escalating and working with the relevant external Regulator if required

HP-149-02 | © June 2020