Employment Law: Bullying in the workplace
What is workplace bullying?
A worker is bullied at work if there is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. Unreasonable behaviour can include threatening, victimising or intimidating.
Some examples of bullying within the workplace include aggressive behaviour, teasing or practical jokes, pressuring someone to behave a certain way, exclusion from work related events and unreasonable work demands.
Workers, including permanent and fixed term staff, casual staff, volunteers and students gaining work experience are all covered by the national anti- bullying laws.
What isn’t workplace bullying?
A manager or supervisor has the power to make decisions or take disciplinary action in relation to poor performance. Further a manager may direct and control the way work is carried out. Reasonable management action does not constitute bullying within the workplace.
What to do if you, or a colleague believe that bullying has happened within the workplace?
If you believe that you are being bullied at workit is imperative that you keep a diary/record and collate any evidence in support of your claim.
You should firstly speak to a supervisor, the human resources department or a workplace health and safety representative or a union to attempt to resolve the issue.
If the bullying continues and you reasonably believe that you are being bullied or harassed within the workplace you may apply to the Fair Work Commission. If the FWC finds that bullying has occurred, then it may make any order (other than money) to prevent you from being bullied at work by the individual or group.
If an order from the Fair Work Commission has been enforced and not followed you may take action against your employer by contacting the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Author: Alicia Flood, Paralegal
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