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The lawfulness of bullying in the workplace

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HC Online | 04 Nov 2010, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Many people are surprised to hear that with the exception of South Australia there is no law that expressly defines and prohibits bullying at work. Seamus Burke explores why this is the case and whether legislative reform is needed
  • Bernie Althofer | 10 Nov 2010, 03:04 PM Agree 0
    There is little doubt that workplace bullying is a cancer spreading out of control across the public and private sector. Out of sight and out of mind, it continues to eat away. Current approaches across Australia do not seem to be resulting in any long term arresting of this insiduous disease. Stronger sentencing and enforcement options for the judiciary for the severe cases of workplace bullying such as experienced by Brodie Panlock may be of benefit. However, as some workplace bullying can fall into what I would frame as ''management'', ''communication'' and ''administrative'' type behaviours, the imposition of imprisonment should not be applied carte blanche. Criminalising bullying will change evidentiary requirements, place additional needs on investigators, and could even create situations legislation is used to ''get'' someone in the workplace. Intent and motive now appear to ''be out the door'' and they appear to be irrelevant. It is time to have the debate, and it is time to consider options that can allow the judiciary in various Courts, Commissions or Tribunals to apply appropriate sanctions on those who commit the very serious behaviours that result in either death or severe psychological injury.
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