Anti-bullying legislation

10 July 2013

New anti-bullying legislation focusses on how employers respond to allegations of bullying. 

Amendments to the Fair Work Act mean that from 1 January 2014, the Fair Work Commission will have new powers to issue orders to stop bullying. The new section – Part 6-4B – means the commission will have jurisdiction to hear applications by employees “who reasonably believe” they may have been bullied at work.

The legislation focuses on preventing further bullying and includes a new definition of bullying. Under this a worker is understood as having been bullied at work if an individual or group of individuals “repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member” and the “behaviour creates a risk to health and safety”. 

This will put a focus on the way that employers respond to complaints about bullying. This means that your practice should have a mechanism in place for dealing with bullying. You also need to ensure that any complaints are dealt with thoroughly and fairly, and ensure that you have prevention strategies in place.

This item was first published in ACA Communique, July 2013.

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