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FWC Endorses Need for Face-to-Face Training


Greg Arnold

Two recent decisions of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reinforced the proposition that ‘tick and flick’ training is not sufficient to satisfy an employer’s obligation to train staff.

Two recent decisions of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reinforced the proposition that ‘tick and flick’ training is not sufficient to satisfy an employer’s obligation to train staff about bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace (Adam Thompson v Ventia Australia Pty Ltd T/A Ventia and Martin Pelly v Ventia Australia Pty Ltd T/A Ventia).

The background to these cases is that Mr Thompson and Mr Pelly were firefighters employed by Ventia Australia and both made posts in a private Facebook group set up by one of the employees. The group name was Sickos Video Sharing Group. Eleven members of the Facebook group were current employees.

The Facebook posts ranged from pornography to racist memes and other sexist material not suitable for the workplace. At least one pornographic post was made during working hours, but most of the material was posted outside working hours. As to when the posts were made was key in the decision of the FWC to reinstate one employee, but to uphold the termination of the other employee.

However, the significant issue to arise from these matters is the type of training provided by Ventia on social media, bullying and sexual harassment, and whether the employees were adequately trained on the company’s policies. In both matters, Commissioner Riordan made significant comments about the ‘tick and flick’ approach to training and was highly critical of Ventia’s training approach.

In the decisions, the Commissioner stated that “the training practices of the employer appear to be along the lines of self-taught, tick and flick approach – which is simply not appropriate and lacks the educational rigour and outcomes of face-to-face training”.

And further, the Commissioner stated that “I have taken into account that the Applicant’s training regime is delivered via online learning, which in many respects, in my view, does not deliver the same educational outcomes as face-to-face tuition, especially when the training module contains 100 slides”.

Reinforcing the views of the FWC, the Respect@Work website provides guidance for employers on “good practice” for the delivery of sexual harassment training. It states that training should be immersive and interactive and lead by instructors with expertise. Whilst e-learning may be cost effective and logistically simple, it notes that it “may be of limited effect” in preventing workplace sexual harassment.

When training sensitive material on topics such as sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying, Effective Workplace Solutions has always been supportive of face-to-face training, which is interactive and delivered by an experienced trainer and tailored to the specific workplace rather than pre-packaged, self-paced modules.

Find out more about the face-to-face training offered by Effective Workplace Solutions, including sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying.

Disclaimer: This article provides a summary only of the subject matter without the assumption of a duty of care by Effective Workplace Solutions. No person should rely on the contents as a substitute for legal of other professional advice. 

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