Workplace Bullying is becoming an increasingly problematic area for Employers and Human Resources. Safe Work Australia recently provided that 39% of mental disorder claims were caused because of harassment or workplace bullying.
What is Workplace Bullying?
There are differing definitions of workplace bullying across jurisdictions in Australia but generally they are defined as conduct towards one or more persons which is:
- repeated; and
- creates a health and safety risk.
Some examples of workplace bullying include:
- aggressive or intimidating behaviour,
- threatening someone with work equipment,
- teasing or practical jokes,
- humiliating or belittling comments,
- sexual harassment,
- spreading rumours,
- using rosters to deliberately inconvenience someone,
- hazing or initiation ceremonies,
- excluding someone from work-related events,
- assigning unreasonable, demeaning or pointless work demands,
- withholding important information needed for effective performance,
- displaying offensive material,
- pressuring someone to behave inappropriately or even illegally.
What Can Help?
There are now specific obligations under health and safety legislation especially Psychosocial Hazards which require active steps to be taken due to the positive obligations to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace bullying.
Policies and workplace training are integral to demonstrate you have taken active steps to prevent workplace bullying.
This checklist of questions will give you a great start to.
- Does the Company have a Workplace Bullying Policy?
- Does the policy provide information on what is bullying and what is not bullying?
- Does the policy state clearly what are the ramifications if workplace bullying is to substantiated?
- Does the policy provide information on what steps need to be taken if there is a complaint of workplace bullying?
- Does the policy provide some guidance or even steps for management to take when a complaint of workplace bullying is received?
- Has there been specific management and leadership training on workplace bullying?
- Does the training provide opportunities for discussion, role plays and analysing case studies to build capability to mitigate liability and risk?
- Does a people manager know what steps need to be taken when a complaint of workplace bullying is received?
- Is it made clear to all managers that records should be kept of discussions and correspondence regarding any workplace bullying complaints or incidents?
- What other steps have been taken to prevent workplace bullying?
These 10 questions forms the basis for steps that can be taken to prevent and deal with workplace bullying.
Give NB Employment Law a call we offer an obligation-free consultation and are happy to help.
About the Author
Jonathan Mamaril leads a team of handpicked experts in the area of employment law who focus on educating clients to avoid headaches, provide advice on issues before they fester and when action needs to be taken and there is a problem mitigate risk and liability. With a core value of helping first and providing practical advice, Jonathan is a sought after advisor to a number of Employers and as a speaker for forums and seminars where his expertise is invaluable as a leader in this area as a lawyer for employers.