Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky

Bullying in the Workplace

By Leslie Buchbinder, Director at Bowen Buchbinder Vilensky Lawyers

7 February 2014

In 2013 the Fair Work Act 2009 was amended to provide the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) with the power to make orders to prevent bullying in the workplace.

As from 1 January 2014 a worker in a business or undertaking that it is covered by the Act is able to apply to the Commission for an order to prevent them from being bullied at work.   Such an application can be made by a worker who ‘reasonably believes that he or she has been bullied at work’.   A worker is ‘bullied at work’ if, while at work, an individual or group repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

The Commission has confirmed it had received 44 applications during the first month of the new anti-bullying jurisdiction.    However, of these 6 were withdrawn.

Given the anecdotal evidence of the prevalence of bullying in the workplace it will be very interesting to see whether the number of applications remains constant or even increases.   It will also be interesting to see what impact the Commission has in rooting out Workplace bullying through this new process.

The real question is, what is unreasonable behaviour and when can a worker ‘reasonably believe’ that he or she is being ‘bullied at work’.

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