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What are anti-bullying orders in the workplace?

There is no place for bullying in any workplace, but how does management go about handling instances of bullying and what rights do the respondents have in any action taken?

Any employee that feels they have been bullied by an individual or group of people either in management or peer positions can lodge a complaint to have this issue resolved.

If this complaint does not rectify the problem, they have the right to lodge an application for an order to stop bullying from the Fair Work Commission website.

Handling these sensitive matters correctly is extremely important for any business; however, the distinction must first be made between what is bullying and what is not.

Understanding the difference

Under the Fair Work Act, managers are protected from claims of bullying when it is determined they were undertaking management action that can be deemed as reasonable.

Examples of an employee being bullied by their manager include:

  • Instances of actual bullying and / or harassment
  • Unfair performance management or feedback that qualifies as bullying
  • Any other forms of management action or supervision that qualify as bullying

What does not qualify as bullying or harassment are standard and fair management practices that include:

  • Performance reviews or appraisals
  • Regular meetings that are designed to address and improve underperformance
  • Receiving counselling or having disciplinary action taken against you for misconduct
  • Being transferred or redeployed
  • Being investigated over alleged misconduct
  • Being denied benefits in relation to your employment
  • Not being allowed to return to work because of a medical condition

Reasonable management action to counsel, manage performance, deny a promotion, transfer, demote, carry out reasonable administrative action, issue warning letters, manage conflict resolution, discipline, undertake investigations into legitimate complaints, participate in the dispute resolution process or moves to retrench or dismiss an employee on reasonable grounds are not classed as bullying.

What is the process with anti-bullying orders in the workplace?

The first step is to have the complaint of workplace bullying and harassment substantiated which involves a workplace investigation. The complainant and the respondent must be provided with fair opportunity to be interviewed and respond to the allegations made and all efforts should be made to interview all witnesses to ensure procedural fairness and to make a fair determination.

Workplace bullying and harassment claims are very serious and can be very damaging to a company’s brand if they are substantiated, not to mention the personal damage to the individual(s) who has been bullied. It can also lead to expensive workers compensation claims as well as litigation and damages for businesses.

Precise Investigation can assist businesses through our independent workplace investigations by ensuring they are carried out with procedural fairness in mind, whilst providing optimal outcomes for corrective actions to be taken following completion and submission of the investigation report.  We can provide trained and experienced workplace investigators that can facilitate the process thoroughly, yet efficiently so there are minimal disruptions to your normal business operations.

Bringing in professionals for these investigations and interviews is also the best way to ensure the correct outcome is achieved to prevent unnecessary litigation.

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