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2016 is becoming a controversial year for politics, proving that the fiery US presidential election has reach across the globe and with the Australian public. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is consuming the media, and talk about politics may be spilling into the workplace.
When talk in the workplace turns to politics, the conversation inevitably touches on the meaningful issues at stake in the election, and most of these issues are by their nature, highly divisive.
Yes, in the best of circumstances, discussion with people who hold different points of view can lead to greater understanding of beliefs different from one’s own. Yes, it may be possible for you and your employees to have a civil, respectful conversation at work about delicate topics such as politics or religion.
If politics becomes a topic discussed amongst employees it is important to remind them to do so without passing judgment. As an employer or manager, it might be worth reminding people that there are standards of professionalism and common courtesy in the workplace for different views.
That being said, there is a place for political discussions, but it should be avoided in the workplace. Accordingly, you may want to consider adopting policies that discourage political discussions and political expression in your workplace, consistent with anti-discrimination laws. Discrimination is considered as treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law, such as sex, age, race, disability or political opinion.
The simplest rule, and probably the best, is to avoid politics whenever you can in the workplace. By doing so, you do not open doors for conflicts or potential discrimination amongst employees and managers.
As Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, we can help you if you have any questions relating to workplace policies and implementing a tailored handbook in your workplace. Call us today on 1300 651 415 to speak with a specialist.