'Unacceptable': Services Australia CEO vows to probe alleged toilet break shaming

Employees allegedly shamed for taking longer than five minutes for washroom breaks, according to reports

'Unacceptable': Services Australia CEO vows to probe alleged toilet break shaming

The CEO of Services Australia has pledged to investigate reported cases of toilet break shaming among employees within the organisation.

"If that's happening it's unacceptable. It's certainly not our policy to approach it in that way," said CEO David Hazlehurst as quoted by ABC News.

"I'm happy to give you my undertaking that we will continue to look into this and create ongoing positive culture about how we manage staff."

Hazlehurst, who just stepped in as CEO in January, made the remarks following reports that employees of Services Australia are being shamed for taking longer than five minutes to go to the toilet.

They are reportedly monitored through the five-minute screen break after employees enter auxiliary codes into their computer when they change activities, according to Senator David Pocock.

"Any minutes over that five minutes which you've 'stolen' from the agency is in some cases being put up on a whiteboard," Pocock told the Senate as quoted by ABC.

There are also cases where employees reportedly face potential disciplinary action, including code of conduct breaches, if they don't meet the five-minute timeframe.

Break shaming a 'myth'

But Jarrod Howard, deputy CEO of customer service delivery, said the codes are used to direct call centre traffic.

"We have done a lot of work to bust what I say is a myth," Howard said as quoted by ABC. "It is not acceptable and I'm not aware of it happening."

He noted that while there is some non-compliance to schedules happening within the organisation, some of them end up being "completely appropriate."

"If they are utilising reasonable time to go to the toilet that is not something we are going to have a code of conduct breach for," he added.

According to Howard, they are working to dismiss and abolish the alleged practices raised in the Senate as it is not the environment they're trying to create.

"I'm happy to look into those individual circumstances because it's not a position that we take at a holistic level across the group," he said.

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