From 1 January 2014 a worker who reasonably believes that he or she has been bullied at work will be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying.
What is bullying?
Bullying is defined as including circumstances where an individual or group of individuals “repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member” and that behaviour “creates a risk to health and safety”.
The concept of bullying does not, however, apply to “reasonable management action”. Reasonable management action may include; responding to poor performance, taking necessary disciplinary action and effectively directing and controlling the way work is carried out.
The Fair Work Commission is empowered to make any orders it considers appropriate if the Commission is satisfied that bullying has occurred and there is “a risk of further such conduct.”
While the commission is unable to award compensation a breach of an anti-bullying order may attract a civil penalty.
In exercising its jurisdiction the Commission may have regard to whether an applicant has first attempted to resolve the situation in accordance with their workplace dispute resolution process.
These are significant reforms that have the potential to contribute to the development of a culture of mutual respect in Australian Workplaces.