Tradesman Convicted For Bullying Young Apprentice Workers

Published July 30, 2019 (last updated July 22, 2020) -

A tradesman has been fined $6,000 for bullying two young apprentices, with verbal abuse, name-calling, swearing, belittling behaviour and threats.

The man was convicted of failing to take reasonable care that his actions did not adversely affect the health and safety of two young workers.

SafeWork Special Services Executive Director, Andrew Gavrielatos said the incident should serve as a reminder for workplaces to address mental health as part of their work health safety procedures. 

“The defendant pleaded guilty to having failed to comply with his obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act NSW (2011) to take reasonable care that he did not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons,” said Mr. Gavrielatos.

The carpenter and joiner admitted to bullying behaviour over an extended period of time. 

“The tradesman’s behaviour caused the young apprentices to feel distressed and anxious, with both reporting to have nightmares and be fearful of going to work.

“The court also ordered the tradesman to attend courses of training in bullying and harassment and anger management and emotional intelligence.

Julian Hackenberg, a Senior Employment Relations Adviser from Employsure says bullying is common in workplaces and a “common query that comes into our advice line and can cause big headaches for employers if it goes unmanaged. I speak to business owners every day about this complex issue, helping employers understand what exactly workplace bullying is, and how to prevent it,” he said.

“As it is such a personal and subjective issue, many employers struggle to identify bullying between employees, and may fail to recognise their own behaviour as bullying.”

According to Mr Hackenberg, bullying Includes:

  • being aggressive, intimidating or humiliating
  • bad language or rudeness
  • teasing, practical jokes or spreading rumours
  • excluding from team activities
  • unreasonable expectations of their work, whether too much, too little or withholding information they need to do it

“If bullying happens only once and relates to sex, age, disability or race, it may breach anti-discrimination laws,” he said.

“The prosecution outcome clearly illustrates our commitment to act against businesses and individuals doing the wrong thing in the workplace when it comes to mental health and wellbeing,” said Mr. Gavrielatos.

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