Ray Rice was banned from playing football when he admitted to physically assaulting his fiancée. Big celebrity causes embarrassment to his employer in a professional sports (and entertainment) industry. What does this mean to healthcare practice managers? I learned today when I listened to CBC Radio show, The Current, that an employer has a responsibility to act when an employee does wrong on their own time.
Why should an employer be responsible for dealing with the private lives of their employees?
The off-duty misconduct of an employee can affect the reputation of the employer and may be contradictory to the employee's job. For example, if a healthcare provider is drunk and disorderly in public patients may not trust the care and treatment that they could expect to receive from the employee. The lack of respect and trust of the employee affects the reputation of the employer, too.
What role do employers have regarding domestic violence?
An employee who is a victim of domestic violence impacts the workplace in many ways. The mental health of the victim is compromised and negatively affects their job performance or productivity, also affecting the attitude and morale of their co-workers. The victim may be absent or late for work. The abuser can use the employee's workplace resources to harass or stalk their partner and risk the safety of all the employees and customers at the workplace.
When an employer becomes aware of actions (on or off the job) of an employee that might
- cause risk to public safety, consumers, customers, other employees,
- affect employee's ability to do their job, or
- negatively impact the reputation of the employer
the employer has a responsibility to act.
The employer should implement IAC – investigate, assess the situation, make a conclusion. This could include employee termination for just cause, termination without cause, or other discipline. When necessary, the employer may need to notify police services as part of their public responsibilities.
Health and safety legislation in the workplace requires the employer to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers including protect from workplace harassment (including workplace violence and bullying) as well as hazardous substances and dangerous machinery and equipment.
Legislation requires employers to develop written policies addressing workplace violence and harassment; review policies at least once a year. Policies must include procedures to enable employees to report incidents, set out how the employer will investigate incidents and complaints and the employer must provide training on these policies.
If an employer does not properly address harassment in the workplace, or an employer becomes aware of an employee's off-hours personal actions that could affect the workplace and does not respond, this could be named a ‘poisoned workplace‘. Employees could claim they can no longer work due to their employer’s failure to prevent an abusive or unsafe workplace and take action against the employer.
Download the CBC’s ‘The Current’ podcast and discuss it with your healthcare practice management team. Are your policies up to date? Do your employees know how to make a complaint? Manage a complaint? Conduct an investigation?
Here are a few more resources to help you get started:
Treasury Board Secretariat website for related tools and guides.