New Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction - are your policies up to date?
From 1 January 2014, a new Anti-bullying jurisdiction has come into effect under the Fair Work Act that allows for the Fair Work Commission to deal with workplace bullying. The recent amendment allows for workers who feel they have been bullied at work to make an application to the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission will then have 14 days from the date of the application to address the claim. Bullying under the legislation is defined as individuals or groups of individuals repeatedly behaving unreasonably towards the worker or a group of workers, creating a risk to health and safety.
The Commission has a number of options for dealing with such claims. These may include the requirement of an individual or group to cease specified behaviours, regular monitoring of compliance with workplace bullying policies. Following a review of an employer’s workplace bullying policy, ongoing support and training may be provided by the Comission . No monetary orders can be imposed, however, a breach of the Commission’s preliminary order will attract a civil penalty. Also, while no monetary fine can be imposed, there is a risk of employees seeking compensation by lodging multiple applications, for example, an anti-bullying order in conjunction with a general protections claim.
If a claim is made to the Fair Work Commission against your company, representation will be required which will result in lost time and money. Furthermore, such claims may damage your company's reputation and internal work relations as hearings are generally held in open forums. Therefore it is paramount that new Anti-Bullying Jurisdiction is reflected in your company's policies.
It is important that businesses implement the appropriate measures to minimise risk and exposure, ensuring that the correct bullying policies and procedures are in place. It is important that employees are consulted and receive the necessary training to understand these policies and such policies in the event that any issues might arise.
Feel free to call us on (02) 8882-9694 to discuss your policy requirements.