Workplace bullying has profound effects on a person’s health as well as their work and family life, and comes at a significant cost to the community and the economy, the federal bullying inquiry has determined.
The productivity commission estimated the total cost of workplace bullying in Australia at between $6bn and $36bn annually, the House of Representatives has heard. In its long-awaited report released this week, Workplace Bullying: We just want it to stop, the Standing Committee on Education and Employment made 23 recommendations as to how Australian business should proceed.
The recommendations principally focus on:
defining what bullying is and is not;
promoting and strengthening existing legislative and regulatory frameworks;
ensuring that the requirements of the draft Code of Practice: Managing the Risk of Workplace Bullying are met, with guidance and support provided to employers;
improving workplace cultures;
and enhancing tools for the prevention and early resolution of workplace bullying incidences.
“Workplace bullying is happening far too frequently in Australian workplaces, and occurs in all sectors and industries. We discovered throughout the inquiry that prevention and early intervention is critical,” Committee Chair, Amanda Rishworth MP, said. A chief concern of witnesses was the lack of clarity about what to do and where to go for help, and for this reason it was recommended to the government that a new national advisory service be established to provide advice, assistance and resolution services to employers and workers alike.
While the proposals are likely to take some time to turn into legislative changes, it is clear that bullying and harassment continue to be complex issues that are no longer seen as a just a HR problem. Employment law experts at Clayton Utz said incidents of workplace bullying cannot be addressed or resolved in isolation. “Business must ensure that they have a clear and definitive approach to managing workplace bullying, centring their efforts and processes within their work health and safety management systems as well as their HR function. Bullying is a clear and present workplace hazard that must be managed as such,” the firm said.
Click here to access the full report.