Anti-Bullying in the Workplace – The Fair Work Commission’s New Regime
The fair work commissions renewed regime for resolving bullying and harassment claims has had pleasing results, confirmed the head of the FWC’s anti bullying panel Peter Hampton. The fair work commission’s annual review revealed that it had finalised nearly 200 anti-bullying applications in the first six months of the new regime, but upheld only one.
“We were well prepared for the nature of the parties and the nature of the issues and challenges that would arise. We put a lot of time into designing a system and providing resources and training for members and staff” Hampton said in the report.
The new anti-bullying jurisdiction places emphasis on preventative maintenance of employment and personal relationships as opposed to picking up the pieces after the event. The benefits of this strategy has Hampton explains is that “Situations can be resolved more quickly and more inclusive to the organization with less judgment being passed, and in the context of an ongoing employment or contractual relationship, all of those are positive”.
The current process for dealing with an anti-bullying claim being submitted is to firstly have an initial conversation with the applicant establishing the features of the situation, before again having the same conversation with the employer. “We usually conduct this process on the first day following the application being lodged so we can deal with the facts when they are presently in the mind of those involved” said Anti Bullying Team Manager Jennifer Anderson.
Just 21 of the matters finalised in the first six months of this year progressed to a decision with only one being up held. A further 59 cases were withdrawn early in the case management process, 34 were withdrawn prior to proceedings, 63 were resolved during the course of proceedings, and 20 were withdrawn after a conference or hearing.
Being able to have timely communication and ongoing discussions with the victim, the employer and all others involved in the case enables our team to intervene and prescribe solutions early on in the piece to prevent as many situations as possible going to trial. “The overall objective of the renewed regime is that working relationships are maintained, less claims become substantiated, ultimately costing businesses less in time, money and lost reputation.
If you require any assistance in dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace, please feel free to contact us on (02) 8882 9694