Bullying can have a major impact on a person for an extended period of time and can never be tolerated, especially in the workplace. That is why there is legislation in place to protect workers from bullying and harassment, which is vital for employers to understand so they can take action if it occurs in their workplace.
The Federal Government’s Fair Work Ombudsman lists bullying as instances in the workplace where an individual or a group repeatedly acts unreasonably towards another individual or group, which also creates a risk to health and safety.
This sort of behaviour can include, but it is not limited to:
Why workers might not report workplace bullying
There are many reasons why an employee will not report instances of bullying and harassment, usually centred around self-preservation. Workers will often fear that their claims will not be believed and in some cases, bullying is covert and difficult to prove, which makes the victim even less likely to report it.
Many believe that the bullying will intensify if they “dob” or “snitch” on the perpetrators and that they will be labelled as a whistle blower who will have severe impacts on their career.
Over time, the mental health of a victim(s) is likely to degrade as well, impacting their self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. This often makes them feel stressed and dejected, which are all feelings that are going to make them less likely to report bullying in the workplace.
These reasons are why it is vital for managers and HR personnel to recognise instances of workplace bullying themselves and act accordingly.
Why managers must act on all complaints of bullying in the workplace
It is imperative that managers act on instances of bullying, or they will be in breach of the Reasonable Management Action manual in the Fair Work Act. This manual is a guide for managers and HR personnel on how to deal with employees on matters concerning behaviour and performance.
Under the Reasonable Management Action manual, it is an expectation that businesses and companies will take action in regards to bullying. This includes reasonable management action, official warnings, Procedural Fairness (where allegations can be challenged by the employee accused of bullying at a fair hearing), performance management plans and ultimately discipline including termination of employment.
If an employer does not act against bullying in the workplace, they can be subject to Anti-Bullying orders which are issued by the Fair Work Commission.
These are lodged online by the individual or group that believe they are being bullied and are investigated inside 14 days by the Fair Work Commission. Failure to comply with these orders can lead to fines being issued and further action that can also lead to compensation claims, expensive court cases that will claim an employer has breached their duty of care, and complaints being made public which can be damaging to a company’s image and brand.
Who is protected under the Fair Work anti-bullying legislation?
Any worker is covered and protected against bullying, and that includes contractors and subcontractors, people employed by a labour-hire or temporary work company, apprentices, trainees, work experience staff, volunteers and out workers.
Precise Investigation is an experienced, third-party company that can help you act on instances of alleged bullying. We provide a non-biased, external team that can help you investigate and conduct a thorough and fair Procedural Fairness process that ensures the correct outcome for all parties.
For extra support or assistance with your case, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 03 9564 7303.