People ‘too often’ play bullying card

Stephen Parry.

Departing Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry has welcomed the definition of bullying which has been included in the council’s revised workplace harassment policy.

Mr Parry, speaking at a policy and commitee meeting last week, said too often the bullying card was played when it was performance-related and ‘‘not bullying’’.

The policy, accompanying a memo prepared by council people and culture general manager Nicky Cooper, was considered at the council’s policy and planning committee.

WorkSafe definitions of bullying were among some of the changes included in the policy that was first approved in 2008.

During the discussion of the policy, committee chairman Keith Hovell asked Mr Parry if staff had an opportunity to comment on the policy.

Mr Parry said staff had not seen the policy but it would be possible to circulate it if the committee members decided this should happen.

‘‘I think it would be very good for staff to have input into it.’’

Since the time the policy was adopted, thinking had changed about employment issues, including bullying, and so it was timely to have the definitions, he said.

‘‘Too often now the [bullying] card’s played and if it’s performance managementrelated it’s not bullying.

‘‘It’s just the function of ensuring that an employee is operating at the expected level.’’

In the memo, Mrs Cooper said employers were responsible for setting an example of what was acceptable in the workplace.

The policy provided guidelines as to what was unacceptable in council workplaces, to acknowledge every person had the right to go to work without being harassed, what people should do if they were being harassed and the consequences if people harass others.

The policy also ensured every person understood the council aimed to provide a harassment-free workplace, Mrs Cooper said.

Committee members passed a resolution stating both staff and councillors should have the opportunity to view and comment on the policy before it was finalised.