Legal reminders for your Strategic HR Plan
Governments are emphasizing the importance of anonymous reporting
Governments around the world are increasingly requiring or recommending HR to implement anonymous ways for employees to raise issues to their employer. Let’s look at three locations with such recommendations in place, the United Kingdom, California, and New York.
California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing states that employers must "Create a complaint process to ensure that complaints receive an employer’s designation of confidentiality, to the extent possible". Their handbook also states that employers must "provide a complaint mechanism that does not require an employee to complain directly to his or her immediate supervisor". Because many organizations have admins for popular chat platforms like Slack or Teams who have the ability to view private DMs, it can be necessary to have true confidential portals to speak directly to a supervisor/HR.
The State of New York created a Sexual Harassment Policy toolkit which highlights the importance of a completely confidential investigation process. Any managers that become aware of harassment must report it. Also, after the 2008 financial crisis, additional measures were put in place for anonymous reporting to track potential financial fraud. In this case, financial customers can use this tool to take care of the mandate to include "The confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the issuer of concerns regarding questionable accounting or auditing matters."
The United Kingdom has made it even more explicit that employers are expected to have an anonymous way for employees to raise concerns. The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission recommends "a reporting system that allows workers to raise an issue anonymously". There is an increasing emphasis on legally supporting victims of workplace harassment, ensuring they can pursue legal action against their employer if they so choose. For example, the Rights of Women, an organization Co-Founded by actress Emma Watson is a free hotline that UK women can call for legal advice regarding workplace harassment. This places even more responsibility on the role of employers as they must ensure that proper procedures are in place if harassment were to take place.