Case study 3: formal review as a statutory requirement

A formal review as a statutory requirement

An employee specifically requests review under section 33 of the Public Service Act. If the action is reviewable and they are not interested in pursuing other options for resolving their concerns, the matter must be formally reviewed.

A formal review helps where there are disputes over factual issues that require someone independent to look at the evidence.

Examples include: pay or leave disputes; and performance assessments.

An employee complaint may also invoke other statutory requirements such as a public interest disclosure or a privacy or discrimination issue.

Sometimes a complaint about another employee may require investigation as a possible breach of the APS Code of Conduct.

Case Study 3

A woman complains to human resources about sexual harassment by a male colleague (the respondent). This includes unwelcome physical contact and inappropriate social and sexual invitations. She feels afraid of reporting the behaviour as the male colleague is very friendly with the manager of the area.

Her complaints are corroborated by another female colleague who has witnessed the original complainant's distress and also experienced low level harassment from the same person.

The original complainant advises that she is so uncomfortable and distressed that she is seeing a doctor and is applying for jobs elsewhere.

This is not a scenario in which alternative dispute resolution or informal resolution would be the appropriate response.

It involves serious allegations of misconduct and is more properly dealt with using agency procedures for investigating suspected misconduct.

However the response to this issue may also involve other management interventions. These may include:

  • referring the complainants to support services
  • formally directing the respondent about contact with the complainants and
  • temporary changing supervisor and reporting arrangements to deal with the complainant's lack of confidence in the independence of their manager.