Anti-bullying legislation

10 July 2013

New anti-bullying legislation focuses 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.