Should reforms to the Fair Work Act be passed by the Senate, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) could face an influx of false bulling claims.
Andrew Stewart, a law professor at Adelaide University who assisted in drafting the Fair Work Act, told SmartCompany that employees may abuse the system to claim bullying when they receive unfavourable performance reviews.
Although Stewart acknowledged that bullying can manifest in performance reviews, he feared most claims of this nature would be a ‘convenient tactic’. As a result, the FWC’s attention may be drawn away from more serious cases of bullying involving physical or verbal abuse.
The Coalition’s proposal to introduce the need for workers to first take their claims to another party before reaching out to the FWC was rejected, although Stewart feels it was ‘closer to the mark’ than Labor’s amendments.
"The new legislation should have some mechanism for screening complaints and for the possibility of the commission declining to act if they feel a complaint should be dealt with through another mechanism,” Stewart told SmartCompany.
Bernadette O’Neill, general manager of FWC, told a Senate hearing last week that an annual 3,500 bullying complaints are expected if the legislation is passed – a total increase of 10% on the current amount, according to Business Spectator.