Does micromanaging constitute 'bullying'?

by Ben Abbott12 Aug 2015
An Australian employee has tested the country’s new anti-bullying legislation with a claim his employer’s micromanagement equated to bullying.
                
Mohammed Aly, a customer assistant officer at CommSec, took a claim before the Fair Work Commission over what he claimed was bullying.
 
Under the legislation, the Fair Work Commission can order a halt to behavior that constitutes bullying, but cannot award employees fines or damages.
 
CommSec had put Aly on two performance management programs lasting more than six months, which required coaching and performance meetings.
 
The Australian Financial Review reports the combination of these meetings added up to a full two thirds of his official part-time work hours.
 
Aly argued the performance management actions added up to micromanagement, and were actually designed to make him resign.
 
The Fair Work Commission disagreed, saying Aly’s managers based their decision to initiate performance management on reasonable grounds.
 
It also concluded that he was not being micromanaged, despite the amount of time managers had dedicated to his development and oversight.
 
However, the AFR reports commissioner Michelle Bissett did warn managers and employers not to over-schedule meetings with part-time employees.
 
“A sense of being over-managed is a matter to be aware of in dealing with performance issues for all staff but particularly for staff who do not work every day."
 
Aly had also received a warning after leaving a confidential client document unsecured on his desk, in violation of the company’s ‘clean desk’ policy.
 
He claimed being singled out was another sign of bullying, showing photos of other employee desks which he claimed also contravened the policy.
 
These arguments were also dismissed by the Fair Work Commission.
 
CommSec responded by saying it was pleased with the decision, though it would not comment further. Aly still works at CommSec.

*Australia's top employment lawyers will be speaking on workplace law matters at the Employment Law for HR Managers masterclass series in November. To find out more and register visit www.hcamag.com/hr-top-talent.
 
 

COMMENTS

  • by Sarina 20/09/2015 7:20:13 PM

    This is why employees don't report bullying. I have been told by numerous sources including my GP to not report bullying by my manager, because I will have no crewmen of having a satisfying outcome.

  • by Jenn 8/11/2016 8:12:37 PM

    As an former commsec employee, I understand why mr Aly fought this. Commsec have no dicression with concerns to its own employees. I was bullied based on mental illness. I was told to find a place to live in 2 days or my my job would be threatened, I used to have anxiety attacks on the way to work fearing the meetings my manager would make me sit in to discuss why I wasn't coping. I felt pressured and forced into a corner. It's not the banking environment that's the issue, it's the management.

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