Poor organisational justice

Poor organisational justice means a lack of:

  • procedural justice (e.g. fair decision making processes)
  • informational fairness (e.g. keeping everyone up to date and in the loop), or
  • interpersonal fairness (e.g. treating people with dignity and respect).

It is more than a worker sometimes not getting the shift they asked for. Poor organisational justice becomes a hazard when it is severe (e.g. very poor organisational justice), prolonged (e.g. long term) or frequent (e.g. happens often). 

Poor organisational justice may include:

  • poor handling of workers information (e.g. not keeping personal information private)
  • policies or procedures that are unfair, biased or applied inconsistently (e.g. favouritism when assigning ‘good’ shifts)
  • blaming workers for things that aren’t their fault or they can’t control 
  • not accommodating workers’ reasonable needs (e.g. not making the workplace accessible)
  • failing to appropriately address (actual or alleged) issues (e.g. underperformance, misconduct, or inappropriate or harmful behaviour such as bullying), or
  • decision-making processes that are poor or which workers aren’t told about.

Identifying and assessing the risks of poor organisational justice

You must identify if psychosocial hazards, including poor organisational justice, are present in your workplace. 

  • Consult workers. Workers may talk about hazards in different ways. For example, they may say they feel stressed, frustrated, resentful or cheated. They may raise concerns about how they are being treated and whether it is fair.
  • Use surveys and tools. Businesses with more than 20 workers may find the People at Work psychosocial risk assessment tool useful. 
  • Observe work and behaviours. For example, gossip about decisions or other workers’ private information, unresolved issues or divisions among workers can be caused by poor organisational justice.
  • Review available information. For example, records of overtime, time off, injuries, incidents or workers’ compensation.
  • Have a way for workers to report and encourage reporting. Treating workers’ concerns seriously and respectfully will help encourage reporting.
  • Identify other hazards present and consider them together. Hazards can interact and combine to create new, changed or higher risks. For example, poor organisational justice may create a higher risk in workplaces with low role clarity if it isn’t clear who should be making decisions.
  • Consider how long, how often and how severely workers are exposed to hazards. The longer, more often and worse the poor organisational justice the higher the risk that workers may be harmed. 

Controlling poor organisational justice

You must eliminate psychosocial risks, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable. For example:

  • Have unbiased and transparent processes, policies and procedures (e.g. for making decisions or workplace entitlements).
  • Ensure work standards are achievable and that workers will not be blamed for things outside their control.
  • Keep confidential information secure and have places where private conversations can be held.
  • Meet workers’ reasonable needs (e.g. ensure the workplace is accessible for workers).
  • Have a way for workers to report issues, raise concerns or appeal decisions.
  • Keep workers informed in a timely way (e.g. tell unsuccessful job applicants privately before publicly announcing promotion decisions).
  • Protect workers who raise safety concerns from discrimination.
  • Hire and promote workers based on merit using transparent selection methods.

When choosing control measures you must consider all the hazards present and how they may interact and combine. For information on other hazards see psychosocial hazards.  

Reviewing control measures 

You must review control measures to check they are working as planned. If a control measure is not improving organisational justice, or is creating new risks, you must make changes.

For more information on meeting your WHS duties see our mental health page