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Great expectations – Has the 2013 Anti-bullying regime fallen short?

Great expectations – Has the 2013 Anti-bullying regime fallen short? (Last Updated On: June 25, 2015)

In 2013, the labour government introduced an anti-bullying regime regulated by the Fair Work Commission. Now in its second year the regime seems to be falling short of its aim, which was to provide quick, cost effective mechanisms to enforce workplace bullying.

While the regime is alleged to be simple, in actual fact it is proving to be a complicated, unpredictable and drawn out process involving significant legal cost to applicants.

In 2014, the regimes first year of operation, the Fair Work Commission reported 701 anti-bullying applications but only made a decision to  56 of these cases, with just two orders to stop bullying made. Of those 56 applications 98% were dismissed due to applications not being made in accordance with the regime and deemed as trivial with no chance of success. Interestingly, at the beginning of 2015, 24% of applications still remained unresolved.

Other major considerations surrounding this regime is that fact that it requires the initial documents to an ‘Application and a Response’. This ultimately poses the person applying against not only their colleague who has conducted the bullying, but also their employer. This type of action has significant potential to lead to additional animosity and uneasiness in the workplace, and not conducive to resuming normal working relations.

In addition, majority of cases under this regime are employee vs employee, which deviates from the Commissions traditional role of employer vs employee, or vice versa. This raises the questions – does the Commission have enough experience to rule on such matters?

Bullying in workplaces cannot go unrecognised but the general consensus is that this regime is a missed opportunity that needs to be addressed

If you are faced with a potential bullying issue between employees, ideally you should address the issue internally, with a view to resolve it with a mutually beneficial outcome. As an employer, it is your responsibility to maintain a peaceful workplace for all employees but it can get tricky. That’s where Employsure can help. We can advise on the most appropriate steps to take in order to avoid the disturbances associate with anti-bullying applications. Call us today on 1300 651 415



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