Workers who are being bullied at work have been given increased protection under recent amendments to the Fair Work Act.
Under these changes workers have the ability to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying.
Who is covered under the new anti-bullying laws?
The anti-bullying laws cover a wide range of workers including employees, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, apprentices, trainees, students on work experience and volunteers.
What is bullying?
Under the changes a worker is bullied at work if, while they are at work, an individual or a group of individuals, repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker or a group of workers of which the worker is a member and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
The Anti-Bullying Guide produced by the Fair Work Commission gives some examples of bullying behaviour such as:
– Spreading malicious rumours; or
– Teasing, practical jokes or initiation ceremonies; or
– Aggressive or intimidating conduct.
The anti-bullying legislation states that it does not apply to reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner. According to the Anti-Bullying Guide reasonable management action includes:
– Performance management processes; or
– Disciplinary action for misconduct; or
– Informing a worker about unsatisfactory work performance.
When will the Fair Work Commission make an order to stop bullying?
The Fair Work Commission will make an order to stop bullying only if it is satisfied that:
(a) The worker has been bullied at work by an individual or group; and
(b) There is a risk that the worker will continue to be bullied at work by the individual or group.
What happens if the bullying doesn’t stop?
It is a civil penalty if a person the subject of an anti-bullying order breaks the order. This means that a worker can apply to the Federal Court for the individual or company to be fined. The maximum fine that can be applied to an individual is $10,200 with the maximum fine for a company set at $51,000.
What should I do if I’m being bullied at work?
If you believe you are being bullied at work there are certain actions you should take before making an application to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying. This includes following any workplace dispute/grievance procedure as well as reporting the bullying to your supervisor or, if the bullying involves your supervisor, to their manager.
What should I do as an employer to prevent bullying?
As an employer you need to ensure that you have policies and procedures in place to protect workers from bullying. When considering whether to make an order to stop bullying the Fair Work Commission will look at the policies and procedures that the employer has in place to prevent and deal with bullying in the workplace.
If you are being bullied at work or you are an employer concerned about your responsibilities under the recent changes to the Fair Work Act call Barwick Boitano today on (02) 9630 0444 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment.
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