Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio Limited

Equal Opportunity Policy

Scope

This policy applies to:

  • All staff, including:
    • Directors.
    • Managers and Supervisors.
    • Full-time, part-time or casual, temporary or permanent staff.
    • Resident and guest artists.
    • Job candidates.
    • Student placements.
    • Apprentices, contractors, sub-contractors and volunteers.
    • Members.
    • Services that MESS provides to clients and how it interacts with other members of the public.
    • All aspects of employment, recruitment and selection; conditions and benefits; training and promotion; task allocation; shifts; hours; leave arrangements; workload; equipment and transport.
    • On-site, off-site or after hours work; work-related social functions; conferences – wherever and whenever staff may be as a result of their MESS duties.
    • Staff treatment of other staff, of members, and of other members of the public encountered in the course of their MESS duties.

Aims

MESS is committed to providing a safe, flexible and respectful environment for staff and members free from all forms of discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment and racial and religious vilification.

All MESS staff are required to treat others with dignity, courtesy and respect.

By effectively implementing our Equal Employment Opportunity Policy we will attract and retain talented staff and create a positive environment for staff.


Staff Rights and Responsibilities

All staff are entitled to:

  • recruitment and selection decisions based on merit and not affected by irrelevant personal characteristics.
  • work free from discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, and racial and religious vilification.
  • the right to raise issues or to make an enquiry or complaint in a reasonable and respectful manner without being victimised (see Workplace complaint resolution policy and procedure).
  • reasonable flexibility in working arrangements, especially where needed to accommodate their family and carer responsibilities, disability, religion and culture (see Flexible work arrangements policy).

All staff and Members must:

  • follow the standards of behaviour outlined in this policy.
  • offer support to people who experience discrimination, sexual. harassment or vilification, including providing information about how to make a complaint.
  • avoid gossip and respect the confidentiality of complaint resolution procedures.
  • treat everyone with dignity, courtesy and respect.

Additional Responsibilities of Management and Supervisors:

  • model appropriate standards of behaviour.
  • take steps to educate and make staff aware of their obligations under this policy and the law.
  • intervene quickly and appropriately when they become aware of inappropriate behaviour.
  • act fairly to resolve issues and enforce workplace behavioural standards, making sure relevant parties are heard.
  • help staff resolve complaints informally.
  • refer formal complaints about breaches of this policy to the appropriate complaint handling officer for investigation.
  • ensure staff or members who raise an issue or make a complaint are not victimised.
  • ensure that recruitment decisions are based on merit and that no discriminatory requests for information are made.
  • seriously consider requests for flexible work arrangements.

Unacceptable Workplace Conduct

The following behaviours are unacceptable in MESS and may be against the law. Staff (including Directors) or Members found to have engaged in such conduct might be counselled, warned or disciplined. Severe or repeated breaches can lead to formal discipline up to and including dismissal.

Discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, and racial and religious vilification are unacceptable at MESS and are covered by Federal and State legislation:

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).

Discrimination

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

Discrimination can occur:

Directly:
When a person or group is treated unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by law (see list below).
For example:

  • A worker is harassed and humiliated because of their race.
  • A worker is refused promotion because they are ‘too old’.

Indirectly:
When an unreasonable requirement, condition or practice is imposed that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging people with a personal characteristic protected by law (see list below).
For example:

  • Redundancy is decided based on people who have had a worker’s compensation claim rather than on merit.

Protected personal characteristics in Victoria include:

  • a disability, disease or injury, including work-related injury.
  • parental status or status as a carer, for example because they are responsible for caring for children or other family members.
  • race, colour, descent, nationality, ancestry or ethnic background.
  • age, whether young or old, or because of age in general.
  • sex.
  • employment activity, for example because they ask questions or raise concerns about their rights or entitlements at work.
  • industrial activity, including being a member of an industrial organisation like a trade union or taking part in industrial activity, or deciding not to join a union.
  • physical features, such as height, weight, size, hair or birthmarks.
  • religious belief or taking part in religious activity, or not holding a religious belief.
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • lawful sexual activity.
  • sexual orientation or gender identity, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer and heterosexual.
  • marital status, whether married, divorced, unmarried or in a de facto relationship.
  • political belief or political activity.
  • an association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these characteristics, such as being the parent of a child with a disability.

It is also against the law to treat someone unfavourably because you assume they have a personal characteristic or may have it at some time in the future.
A complaint about potentially discriminatory conduct can be made using the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual under Grievance Policy.

Bullying

If someone is being bullied because of a personal characteristic protected by equal opportunity law, it is a form of discrimination.
Bullying can take many forms, including jokes, teasing, nicknames, emails, pictures, text messages, social isolation or ignoring people, or unfair work practices.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, this behaviour does not have to be repeated to be discrimination – it may be a one-off event.

Behaviours that may constitute bullying include:

  • sarcasm and other forms of demeaning language.
  • threats, abuse or shouting.
  • coercion.
  • isolation.
  • inappropriate blaming.
  • ganging up.
  • constant nonconstructive criticism.
  • deliberately withholding information or equipment that a person needs to do their job or access their entitlements.
  • unreasonable refusal of requests for leave, training or other workplace benefits.

Bullying is unacceptable at MESS and may also be against occupational health and safety law.
A complaint about bullying can be made using the using the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual under Grievance Policy.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a specific and serious form of harassment. It is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, spoken or written. It can include:

  • comments about a person’s private life or the way they look.
  • sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring.
  • brushing up against someone, touching, fondling or hugging.
  • sexually suggestive comments or jokes.
  • displaying offensive screen savers, photos, calendars or objects.
  • repeated requests for contact outside of the workplace.
  • requests for sex.
  • sexually explicit emails, text messages or posts on social networking sites.

Just because someone does not object to inappropriate behaviour in the workplace at the time, it does not mean that they are consenting to the behaviour.
Sexual harassment is covered in the workplace when it happens at work, at work-related events, between people sharing the same workplace, or between colleagues outside of work.
All staff and Membershave the same rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment.
A single incident is enough to constitute sexual harassment – it doesn’t have to be repeated.
All incidents of sexual harassment, no matter how large or small or who is involved, require employers and managers to respond quickly and appropriately.
MESS recognises that comments and behaviour that do not offend one person can offend another. This policy requires management, staff and volunteers to respect other people’s limits.
A complaint of sexual harassment can be made using the MESS Grievance Process outlined in the terms and conditions of Memebrship.


Pregnancy at work

MESS encourages employees to inform their Management of their pregnancy as soon as possible. However, we respect that an employee may not wish to advise us of her pregnancy earlier than the minimum notice period.
We also respect an employee’s wishes regarding when it is appropriate to tell colleagues about the pregnancy.
See the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual - Parental Leave Policy.

Harassment while pregnant

MESS is committed to ensuring the safety of pregnant employees and considers harassment, bullying and discrimination to be unacceptable behaviour.

Safety at work

MESS understands pregnancy to be a healthy and normal process and recognises that women have different experiences. When an employee notifies her Management that she is pregnant, the Management will ask the employee to let them know if they experience any changes to their work capacity during the pregnancy. The employee and her Management will then discuss what is needed to keep the employee safe at work and adjustments will be made accordingly where possible.
Options to reduce hours, change of duties, light duties, rotated tasks, provision of a chair and provision of additional breaks are common ways to ensure safety at work, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Transfer to a safe job

If it's not safe (due to illness, risks or hazards) for a pregnant employee who is entitled to parental leave to continue in her usual position, she can be transferred to a 'safe job' with no change to terms and conditions.
The employee needs to provide MESS with reasonable evidence that she is fit for work, but it would be inadvisable to continue in her present position. MESS may insist on a medical certificate.
If MESS can’t transfer the employee to a safe job, she may take (or be required by MESS to take) paid ‘no safe job’ leave for the time stated in the medical certificate or until the pregnancy ends (either by giving birth or otherwise).
'No safe job' leave is not sick leave – it is a separate paid leave type (pregnancy - no safe job). This leave will be paid at the rate specified in the award or agreement which, at a minimum, can be no lower than the employee’s base rate of pay for her ordinary hours of work. In the six weeks prior to the expected date of the birth of the child, an employer may ask an employee on safe job leave for medical certificates stating that she would be fit to perform a safe job, if one were available to her.
An employee may be required to take unpaid parental leave (instead of paid no safe job leave) if she does not provide a medical certificate within seven days or if she provides a medical certificate stating she is not fit for any work.

Working until the birth

A pregnant employee may work until the expected date of birth of her child. If she wishes to continue working in the last six weeks of her pregnancy she may be requested to provide a medical certificate within seven days confirming she is fit to work.
If the medical certificate indicates the employee is not fit for work, she may be required to start parental leave or take a period of unpaid leave as soon as practicable. See the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual - Parental Leave Policy.

Return to work

If the employee has agreed to contact during leave, then towards the end of the leave period, the Management should confirm the employee’s intention to return on the agreed date. The employee also may want to discuss any requests for flexible work arrangements at this time. See the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual - Flexible Working Arrangement Policy on page 18.
An employee must provide four weeks notice if they want to extend their leave beyond the return date that was initially advised. See the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual - Parental Leave Policy.
The employee on parental leave has the right to return to the job they held prior to going on leave, including any promotion. If that position no longer exists, the employee will be given whichever other available position is nearest in status and remuneration to the position they held prior to going on leave.
If an employee was placed in a safe work position prior to leave, the employee is entitled to return to the position they held immediately before the safe work position.
If the pre-parental leave position no longer exists, MESS will follow its redeployment and redundancy procedures to determine if a suitable alternative position is available.

Breastfeeding at work

MESS aims to understand and support mothers in the workplace, including accommodating breastfeeding as much as possible e.g. providing a private space.

An employee should discuss her needs with her Management and MESS will endeavour to make a private space available or other arrangements made by agreement. Depending on the employee’s duties this may include cover while she is away from her work environment.


Racial and Religious Vilification

Vilification is behaviour that encourages others to hate, disrespect, or abuse a person or group of people because of their race or religion.
This includes spoken, written, online or physical behaviour towards a particular race or religious group that encourages others to ridicule them, be hateful or violent towards them, damage their property, or make false claims against them.
It is also against the law to give permission or help someone to vilify others, for example by publishing or distributing information about them.
Some behaviour may not be vilification, if it is reasonable and done in good faith, such as publishing a media report about racist behaviour. Some comments or jokes about a person’s race or religion may not be vilification, but they could still be discriminatory if they happen in one of the eight areas of public life covered by the law, such as at work.
A complaint of racial and religious vilification can be made using the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual under Grievance Policy.


Victimisation

Victimisation is subjecting or threatening to subject someone to a detriment because they have asserted their rights under equal opportunity law, made a complaint, helped someone else make a complaint, or refused to do something because it would be discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation. Victimisation is against the law.

For example:

  • A worker is refused a promotion and told that it is because their complaint of bullying last year showed that they are not a team player.
    It is also victimisation to threaten someone (such as a witness) who may be involved in investigating an equal opportunity concern or complaint.

Victimisation is a very serious breach of this policy and is likely (depending on the severity and circumstances) to result in formal discipline against the perpetrator.
MESS has a zero tolerance approach to victimisation. Anyone who believes they have been victimised is required to immediately report the matter to a MESS Director.


Gossip

Gossip about equal opportunity problems or complaints is unacceptable at MESS.
It is not appropriate for an employee to talk with other staff, members or stakeholders about any equal opportunity complaint, whether it is theirs or lodged by someone else.
Gossip is likely to reinforce a problem, create new problems (for example, victimisation) and make it harder to solve the original issue.
Staff with a problem, concern or complaint are encouraged to resolve it as quickly as possible according to methods outlined in the MESS Human Resources Policy and Procedure Manual under Grievance Policy.
Breaching the confidentiality of a formal complaint investigation or inappropriately disclosing personal information obtained in a professional role (for example, as a manager) is a serious breach of this policy and may lead to formal discipline.


Merit at MESS

All recruitment and job selection decisions at MESS will be based on merit – the skills and abilities of the candidate as measured against the inherent requirements of the position – regardless of personal characteristics.
It is unacceptable and may be against the law to ask job candidates questions, or to in any other way seek information, about their personal characteristics, unless this can be shown to be directly relevant to a genuine requirement of the position.
Wherever possible, at least one person on every staff selection panel should have had some formal training in equal opportunity.


Resolving Issues at MESS

MESS strongly encourages any staff member who believes they have been discriminated against, bullied or harassed, sexually harassed, vilified or victimised to take appropriate action. Please do not suffer in silence.
Staff who do not feel safe or confident to take such action may seek assistance from the Human Rights Commission enquiry line 1300 292 153 for advice and support or action their behalf.
Please refer to the MESS Terms and Conditions of Memebrship


Additional reading

Please read the MESS Terms and Conditions of Memebrship.