In a recent legal case of a Nationally Recognized Training Company vs. a well-known International Corporation where a specialized compliance training contractor, was commissioned by Corporation, a prominent business entity, to design and implement a training program to meet new laws and legislation requirements in Australia. The training was developed and aimed to educate the Companies employees about their rights, roles, and responsibilities under the prevailing laws and corporate guidelines.

After a recent prosecution for a breach under both Respect at Work and Psychological Safety at Work Laws and Legislations by a Stage Government Regulator both the Training Company and Corporation were investigated to review both their actions under prosecution frameworks.

The training provider had a signification reputation for crafting, delivering, meticulous thorough training programs. It was identified that through their engagement and after contractually being engaged that they were met with a series of challenges imposed by the Corporation. The client insisted on continually compressing the extensive training content into a significantly shorten the training programs against best practices and recommendations by the provider right across the business operations, under the rationale that a briefer program would be more financially prudent and time efficient.

Bullying and Harassment: The Corporation relentlessly pressed the Training provider through various mediums – emails, meetings, and calls, employing a tone and manner that amounted to threating to terminate the contract, bullying and harassment.

Compromised Quality: The condensation of the training program compromised its quality, reducing its effectiveness and jeopardizing the Corporations compliance with the legal standards and corporate responsibilities.

Ethical Dilemma: The Training Company was confronted with an ethical dilemma of acquiescing to the client’s demands and delivering an inferior training program or standing firm on its standards and risking the client relationship.

In Australia, WHS is heavily regulated by bodies such as SafeWork NSW in New South Wales or WorkSafe Victoria in Victoria. Upon discovery of the compromised training due to the corporations insistence on brevity over quality the regulator commenced an investigation into the complaints and evidence provided by the Training provider regarding the harassment and the potential violation of WHS laws by the corporation.

The regulator scrutinized the communication between the two companies, the proposed and actual training programs, and testimonies from the training company’s employees and determined that the corporation as it:

  • Pressurized the provider into compromising the training, and that
  • the resultant training did not comply with WHS standards
  • was a breach under Psychological Safety at Work Laws and Legislation and
  • was a Breach under Respect at Work Laws and Legislation

The regulator is currently prosecuting the corporation for violating WHS laws and by failing to provide adequate safety training, potentially leading to safety issues and injuries penalties, which under Australian law can be substantial for such breaches.  The maximum penalty can be up to $10.45 million.