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The Department of Labour has told the Gore District Council to improve the way it deals with workplace stress amongst its staff.
The requirement follows the Department’s investigation into workplace stress claims made by four ex-staff members and three councillors, who claimed that Council staff were being bullied at work, and the Council was not taking steps to ensure their safety.
Invercargill Health and Safety Service Manager, John Pannett, said the Department’s investigation concluded that the Council does not have an effective process for addressing concerns of staff who believed they were being bullied.
“All organisations need to understand that workplace stress is something they need to manage, and that left unaddressed workplace stress can become a health and safety issue. The Council’s health and safety policy does not include workplace stress, and has no effective process for addressing allegations of workplace stress due to bullying.
“We concluded that these specific complaints would not have arisen if the Council’s health and safety policy recognised workplace stress and had a process for dealing with it.
“The Department has issued the Gore District Council with an improvement notice requiring it to improve how it manages workplace stress. Department staff will work with the Council to improve its health and safety system.”
The Department of Labour can issue an improvement notice if it believes an organisation or person is not meeting their obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act. The notice identifies the specific issues and instructs the recipient to comply with the law within a certain time.
The Department has notified the complainants of the outcome of its investigation.