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How to be a contact person

Contact people need to fully understand and be confident in their role in the workplace.

Here are some suggested actions for contact people when staff raise issues of discrimination or harassment:

  • Thank the person for making contact and rasing the problem.
  • Explain your role and how it is limited to providing information and support, not complaint handling.
  • Explain the workplace policies and procedures.
  • Explain the options to address the issue and the pros and cons.
  • Keep confidentiality, providing the issue does not need to be referred to management.
  • Keep a record of action taken.
  • Get help when you need it.

Example

Georgina was appointed as the equal opportunity contact person in her work area. Four staff members all came to her complaining that Bob, their line supervisor, was harassing and putting down members of his team. Georgina talked with each one of the staff separately, to avoid taking the side of 'the group'. She told each of them about the organisation's policies and procedures and options for resolving the problem.

Example

As a contact person, Charles was approached by Emily who complained of sexual harassment in the workplace. Emily said she was being stalked on the way home by a person she claimed was also harassing her at work. Charles asked Emily what she wanted to do, pointing out she could complain to external authorities like the Police or the Equal Opportunity Commission. He documented the complaint and, because it was serious, sought advice from the company's Human Resources Manager. The HR Manager asked for the name of the person complaining, but to maintain confidentiality Charles said he needed to check first. Charles told Emily that her claims were serious and needed to be referred to management because stalking posed a risk to her and others. Emily didn't want to report it, so Charles decided to wait and follow it up with her in a few days to check if the behaviour was continuing before telling management.