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Ask our specialist – what am I liable for when an employee bullies?

Bullying & HarassmentSeptember 4, 2017

Ask our specialist – what am I liable for when an employee bullies? (Last Updated On: September 5, 2017)

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour towards a worker. It can be humiliating a person, bad language, practical jokes, spreading rumours, excluding someone from team activities or several other negative actions. But to be defined as bullying, the behaviour must be repeated.

The Role Of An Employer.

The concern for business owners when bullying takes place in the workplace, is that in every state and territory there are health and safety laws which require the employer to provide a safe workplace. This includes protecting workers from being bullied. To this end, it is an employers responsibility to ensure the workplace is free from any form of bullying with significant fines if employers fail to address the situation.

Since 2014, employees have been able to lodge complaints in the Fair Work Commission to address bullying in the workplace. The FWC may make an order requiring the behaviour to stop, to implement new company policies and provide information and training to workers.

Failing to act on bullying behaviour can also result in an employer being faced with a workers compensation claim by the person being bullied.

What Next?

Employers should be proactive in managing bullying in the workplace, with appropriate policies and training. Employers should also respond quickly to any allegations of bullying, investigate the allegations and take appropriate disciplinary action. They should also document all steps taken to ensure they can  show they have met their obligations (eg  implementation of a workplace policy, register of training, and action of management in response to allegations).

For advice on how to manage workplace bullying, employers should call Employsure on 1300 651 415.

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