Government initiative challenges your office bully

The federal government has announced changes to the Fair Work Act which could see work place bullies get their comeuppance



Australians being bullied at work will soon be able to get help quickly with a focus on early intervention through the Fair Work Commission.

Minister for employment and workplace relations, Bill Shorten, says the government’s response supports measures to adopt a national definition of workplace bullying, to promote education and awareness of what constitutes workplace bullying and to lead the development of national training standards to improve responses to bullying complaints.

“Bullying and harassment have no place in any Australian workplace. Every Australian who goes to work should be able to come home safe.”

Shorten says the government will amend the Fair Work Act to allow employees who have suffered bullying at work the right to seek assistance through the Fair Work Commission.

 “We heard from those who gave evidence of their personal experiences to the Committee the importance of early intervention in bullying cases, to preserve the employment relationship, to stop bullying from continuing or escalating and to ensure their voices are heard.Today’s announcement to empower the Fair Work Commission to deal with bullying complaints will provide an accessible, affordable and timely pathway to help resolve bullying matters for workers and employers.”

The amendments to the Fair Work Act will include:

  • Adopting the Committee’s recommended definition: ‘Bullying, harassment or victimisation means repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety’.
  • Recognising that bullying does not include reasonable management practices including performance management conducted in a reasonable manner.
  • Allowing workers who have suffered bullying to make a complaint to the Fair Work Commission
  • Requiring the Fair Work Commission to deal with any application as a matter of priority including by listing the matter for consideration within 14 days; and
  • Enabling the Fair Work Commission to make orders to deal with the complaint and/or to refer to the relevant state WHS regulator

He says other recommendations supported by the government include Safe Work Australia developing materials for employers that provide advice on preventing and responding to workplace bullying.

Safe Work Australia will also be working with the states and territories to develop nationally accredited training for managers and health and safety representatives to help them deal with bullying.

“Supporting workplace leaders and managers to address bullying through prevention, early intervention and improving skills to deal with workplace bullying is vital to changing workplace cultures.”

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