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Rise in Bullying Claims – Have you minimised the risk?

The Fair Work Act 2009 was amended in 2014 to provide workers the right to make a complaint to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order to stop “bullying” behaviour in their workplace.

Within the first 9 months of the anti-bullying laws, FWC received 532 bullying claims

  •  The majority are against immediate managers
  •  One third are from employees in companies with less than 50 employees
  •  Clerical roles have one of the highest proportion of claims
 

While majority of bullying claims are settled through mediation or reconciliation it is disruptive to the workplace and can be a time consuming and financial burden to deal with the complaint, not to mention potential worker’s compensation claims that can result.

 

How is bullying defined by Fair Work?

“Bullying is defined as repeated unreasonable behaviour towards a person or group at work that creates a risk to health or safety“.

 

How do you safeguard your business? The FWC data highlights that whether a business is big or small you are not exempt from a bullying claim, all businesses need to be prepared, as do your managers.

 

Here are four actions to help your business prevent and/or deal with bullying claims professionally and promptly:

 1.     Develop an Anti-Bullying Policy

Updating or creating an anti-bullying policy which defines employer and employee obligations and disciplinary actions for any breaches.  This type of policy will assist with awareness and minimise your risks.

 2.     Educate your Workforce

The term ‘bullying’ is often incorrectly applied, educate your employees on what is and what is not workplace bullying.  Employees and managers need to understand that clashing personalities and reasonable performance management does not constitute legitimate workplace bullying.

 3.     Train your Managers

Most complaints are made about managers. Businesses need to ensure their managers have the ability and authority to deal with ‘people’. A common mistake is to promote your best performer to a manager whether they can manage or not.  Equip managers with skills such as how to provide feedback and deal with poor performers so that managers can deal promptly with issues as they arise and prevent bullying behaviour.   

 4.     Create a Procedure to handle a Bullying Complaint

If a bullying claim does arise in the workplace, it needs to be dealt with quickly, efficiently and confidentially to ensure minimum impact on the business. Creating a grievance procedure provides all parties with a clear guide on how a claim should be investigated and potentially resolved.

 

Work with your HR team to develop and implement all four aspects and create an anti-bullying culture in your workplace, ensuring you minimise the time, resources and financial costs, of a potential bullying claim.

Please contact WCA- People & Culture Solutions if you require any assistance with Human Resources and Industrial Relations on (08) 9383 3293 or admin@wcasolutions.com.

 

 

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