Workplace bullying is a pressing issue in Australian workplaces, with it estimated to cost businesses between $17 billion and $36 billion each year, and the average cost for a single claim falling between $17,000 and $24,000.
Considering this, as an employer, it is important to understand what is considered bullying and what is deemed as reasonable management action.
An employee is bullied at work if an individual, or group of individuals, repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker and that behaviour creates a risk to the worker’s health and safety. Examples of bullying may include, but not limited to:
aggressive or intimidating conduct
belittling or humiliating comments
the spreading of malicious rumours
teasing, practical jokes or initiation ceremonies
exclusion from work related actives
unreasonable work expectations (including too little or too much work, or work above or below a worker’s skill set)
pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner
Understanding reasonable management action
Bullying does not include reasonable management action taken against an employee. It is reasonable for managers and supervisors to allocate work and to give fair feedback on an employee’s performance. These actions cannot be considered workplace bulling if they are carried out in a reasonable manner and take into account specific circumstances.
Reasonable management actions include:
setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines
rostering and allocating working hours
transferring a worker for operational reasons
deciding not to select a worker for promotion where a reasonable process has been followed
informing a worker of their unsatisfactory work performance
informing a worker of their unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour in an objective and confidential way
implementing organisational change or restructuring
taking disciplinary action including suspension or termination of employment
Employers need to ensure when taking management action against an employee, they do so in a way that cannot be deemed as bullying. This includes:
providing clear instructions, information and training to all employees
ensuring employees are aware of and understand the business’ performance and disciplinary policies and procedures
any management action taken is justified and the process is fair and consistent
documenting all performance and disciplinary matters
Employsure can assist you in minimising the risks of workplace bullying by advising on effective ways to manage behaviour and performance. If you have any questions relating to bullying, reasonable management actions, or need help with differentiating between the two, contact us today on 1300 651 415. Our specialist team can answer any questions you may have.