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Protect Your Business and Your People. Get Advice on Bullying in the Workplace.

When bullying is discussed, people often think about kids bullying each other. Unfortunately, it is not just kids who bully, adults do too. If you’re an employer you’ve probably – unfortunately - had to deal with bullying, or claims of bullying, at work.

Workplace bullying comes in many forms, and in some cases, business owners may be liable. Bullying and harassment can lead to a toxic workplace culture – which is something you don’t want to have at your workplace. It can lead to reduced staff morale and it can impact workplace productivity.

On top of that, bullying and harassment can lead to serious claims against your business or one your employees.

No business owner wants to get themselves in that situation.

Do you have the correct policies in place? If you’re worried about workplace bullying and harassment, call us now and we can give you free, initial advice about bullying in the workplace.

Armadillo and Customline Campers, QLD
Employsure Client

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Employsure Can Help You Feel Confident About Handling Workplace Bullying.

As the leading workplace relations specialists, Employsure can:

  • Provide you with bullying policies to protect your employees and your business
  • Assist your business in complying with any Fair Work Commission-ordered bullying order
  • Advice on best practices for your business in relation to bullying
  • ...and much more!

    Call us today and see how we can help your business.

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    Why is the Employer Helpline Free?

    Because we're confident you’ll find the Employsure experience so beneficial, we’re happy to offer this initial consultation free of charge.

    This way, if you encounter more complex, ongoing issues with the Fair Work Act, you’ll already know that Employsure are the experts you can trust.

    Besides, employees have unions, industry associations, the Fair Work Commission.

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    What is bullying and harassment in the workplace?

    Although the terms bullying and harassment are frequently used interchangeably, they both have distinct meanings.

    The Fair Work Act 2009 defines bullying as repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

    Examples of bullying include:

    • behaving aggressively;
    • yelling, screaming and swearing;
    • teasing or practical jokes;
    • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately;
    • excluding someone from work-related events;
    • deliberately changing rosters;
    • unreasonable work demands; and
    • withholding information required to perform role.

    Bullying is defined as unreasonable behaviour that occurs repeatedly. If the incident only occurs once, then it is not an incidence of bullying according to the Fair Work Act 2009.

    Workplace harassment is offensive behaviour that is targeted on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity or other protected characteristic.

    What is classed as bullying in the workplace?

    Bullying is defined as unreasonable behaviour that occurs repeatedly. If the incident only occurs once, then it is not an incidence of bullying according to the Fair Work Act.

    In terms of conduct, bullying is classified as:

    • aggressive, intimidating or humiliating behaviour;
    • bad language or rudeness;
    • teasing, practical jokes or spreading rumours;
    • excluding from team activities;
    • placing unreasonable expectations of an individuals’ work;
    • withholding essential information from someone which is required for them to perform their duties.

    Additionally, management action that is justified and carried out in a reasonable way is not considered bullying. For example, carrying out a genuine disciplinary process against an employee is not bullying if it is carried out in a reasonable way.

    What are the signs of bullying in the workplace?

    Some signs of potential bullying in the workplace include:

    • a sudden and unusual change in an employee/s usual demeanour;
    • a shift in the general social atmosphere of the workplace;
    • a change to an employee’s usual work performance;
    • decrease in productivity;
    • increased levels of absenteeism;
    • unnecessary, unreasonable or constant criticism of an individual’s work;
    • aggressive conversations;
    • hearing an unkind nickname
    Is bullying illegal in the workplace?

    There are legal obligations to consider all health and safety risks in the workplace. As bullying, by definition, poses a risk to the health and safety of an individual or group of workers, it must be managed.

    What is intimidation at work?

    Intimidation isn’t specifically defined by the Fair Work Act 2009 and may have different connotations depending on the context.

    Intimidation may include aggressive behaviour, making threats, harassment, excluding an individual from social work events, or generally other bullying or harassing behaviour.

    What is Victimisation in the workplace?

    Victimisation is the action of singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment.

    In discrimination law, the same definition applies, however, the action is said to have been taken due to an employee having:

    • made a bullying or harassment claim;
    • asserted their rights, or supported someone else asserting their rights, under anti-discrimination laws;
    • provided information or documents to internal or external investigators; and

    alleged that a person has acted unlawfully.

    Is favoritism a form of discrimination?

    In some cases, favouritism may be a form of discrimination. Whether or not favouritism is discrimination depends on the reason why the person is being favoured.

    Is exclusion bullying at work?

    Exclusion can be bullying at work. If a worker is continuously excluded, or made to feel excluded, from team activities in such a way as to pose harm, then it may be bullying.

    Is bullying illegal in the workplace?

    Bullying by itself is not illegal, but incidences of bullying can breach anti-discrimination and health and safety laws.

    If a worker is bullied due to a personal characteristic, for example their sexual orientation, then these incidents are illegal. Similarly, if the bullying involves a dangerous prank then health and safety laws can be breached.

    How can you stop bullying in the workplace?
    • Provide a policy to staff. Communicate clearly your anti-bullying stance and provide staff with a clear process to report any bullying behaviour
    • Provide training. Train leaders and other employees on how to spot, combat and manage bullying in the workplace.
    • Remain vigilant. Keep a keen eye out for any bullying incidents and stamp them out if they arise.
    • Lead by example. Treat all staff equally and respectfully. Remind staff constantly of how you’d like your workplace to be run.
    • Act swiftly. Investigate all claims of bullying and take all matters seriously. Where appropriate, enact disciplinary procedures as outlined in your Bullying policy.
    How can workplace bullying be prevented?
    • Train staff. Give staff anti-bullying training so they can better spot it and prevent it.
    • Foster an inclusive culture. Culture starts from the top, so foster an inclusive culture to make sure your staff understand that you want the team working as one.
    • Publish policies and procedures. Produce documents to let staff know how seriously you take bullying and give them procedures to report it if they see or hear it.
    How do you deal with discrimination at work?
    • Keep an eye out. Understand what discrimination is and the various forms in which it comes.
    • Communicate to staff. Let staff know seriously you take discrimination, including that it is illegal to discriminate.
    • Investigate any matters. If discrimination pops up, interview employees and try to understand the context of the accusation.
    • Deal with it personally. If you feel that a line has been crossed, discuss the matter with both parties separately.
    • Discipline the offender. Punish the perpetrator according to the guidelines in your anti-discrimination policy.
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