What is bullying?
An employee is bullied at work if an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behave unreasonably towards the employee, or a group of employees of which the employee is a member and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
Bullying can be subtle or covert and includes spreading malicious rumours about an employee; setting unreasonable work expectations; exclusion from work-related events; acts of intimidation, coercion, threats, aggression, humiliation, shouting, sarcasm, victimisation, singling-out; malicious pranks; abuse (physical, verbal and emotional); isolation; ganging-up; innuendo; disrespect; victim-blaming; repeated acts of discrimination or harassment and so on.
Employers cannot ignore or delegate their workplace health and safety obligations. They must do everything reasonably practicable to prevent and address bullying in the workplace. A good starting point is ensuring you have a properly drafted Workplace Bullying Policy and have provided training to your employees on the policy.
Key risks of getting it wrong
- Employee could resign and make either an unfair dismissal or general protection claim in the Fair Work Commission alleging constructive dismissal.
- Employee could make an application to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop bullying whilst still employed.
- Workplace health and safety complaint, investigation and prosecution if found to have breached the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld).
- Workers’ compensation claims usually related to mental health issues.
How can we help you?
Allegations of workplace bullying must be taken very seriously. If an employee makes a complaint alleging workplace bullying, it is imperative that you act promptly and investigate the grievance thoroughly and in accordance with relevant policies and procedures.
Our experienced Employment Lawyers can help by:
- Preparing a Workplace Bullying Policy;
- Providing training in relation to your Workplace Bullying Policy;
- Providing guidance on how to manage a specific workplace bullying complaint;
- Advising on risks in relation to a specific complaint;
- Conducting an independent investigation into a workplace bullying complaint and preparing a report on the outcome;
- Advising on how to manage an employee found to have bullied another employee;
- Advising on a claim commenced in the Federal Court, Federal Circuit Court, Fair Work Commission (‘Tribunal‘) or a WHS prosecution;
- Representing you in defending a claim in the Tribunal;
- Representing you in relation to a WHS investigation and prosecution;
- Negotiating a settlement of a complaint or a claim in circumstances where a settlement is warranted, including preparing a Deed of Settlement and Release; and
- Advising on how to manage a Stop Bullying Application and facilitate an employee’s return to work.