IRD action on workplace bullying overdue, says PSA

The need to tackle bullying in the workplace was identified by the IRD in its own report.
SIAHEIR AZIZAN/123RF

The need to tackle bullying in the workplace was identified by the IRD in its own report.

A year after a plan of action was agreed to tackle workplace bullying for tax workers, changes have yet to be made, the Public Sector Association (PSA) says.

The Inland Revenue Department revealed in its latest annual report this week, that it was making moves to address the issue in the workplace.

But Basil Prestidge, the PSA's assistant secretary, said recommendations made at the end of last year, had yet to be rolled out.

A working group was formed, which included the PSA, after the 2013 State Services Commission's "Integrity and Conduct" survey identified areas which "required some focus", including bullying in the workplace, the IRD's annual report said.

But Prestidge said: "All the recommendations from the working group were endorsed by the commissioner, but they haven't been implemented."

"Our organiser wouldn't say they have been shelved and ignored," he said. "They are being slowly worked through."

"There's been a lot of talk, but little action on the ground," he said.

Change at the IRD is designed to become a more efficient tax-collector with which more and more taxpayers engage electronically. The scale of the change, individual workloads, and fears for their future were all creating an environment where employees felt under pressure, Prestidge said.

He did not believe IRD had a toxic working culture, but that there were issues which needed addressing, particularly with some managers in smaller IRD offices. The was significant variability amongst manager, he said.

The IRD's annual report acknowledged the recommendations had not been acted on yet. It said: "The majority of changes will occur as a result of work currently underway to update our human resources policies and guidance."

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New Zealand appears to have far too many people behaving in an overbearing manner in its workplaces.

The 2012 Survey of Working Life by Statistics NZ revealed 10 per cent of employees had experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying at work in the previous 12 months.

And, in 2013, a survey by Victoria University found almost a third of the 16,000 Public Service Association members who responded had experienced bullying in the state sector.

READ MORE: Big rise in workplace bullying complaints 

STATE SECTOR WORKPLACE BULLYING

  • The 2013 results found 25 per cent of State servants considered they had personally experienced bullying or harassment in the last 12 months.
  • When State servants were provided with a list of breaches of the Standards of Integrity and Conduct Code, and asked whether they had witnessed any of these behaviours in the past 12 months, the two most commonly observed were bullying, observed by 28 per cent, and abusive or intimidating behaviour, observed by 23 per cent.
  •  It's not always managers and supervisors accused of bullying. Those who said they had been bullied or harassed identified colleagues (46 per cent), supervisor/managers (39 per cent) and senior managers (22 per cent) as the three groups most likely to be doing the bullying.
 

 - Stuff

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