FWC puts workplace bullies in their sights

Squashing workplace bullying is something any HR manager can get behind. Whilst legislative changes, due to commence on 1 July, will see the FWC tackling the bullying problem, waiting around might get you caught in the crossfire.

FWC puts workplace bullies in their sights

Squashing workplace bullying is something any HR manager can get behind. Whilst legislative changes, due to commence on 1 July, will see the FWC tackling the bullying problem, waiting around might get you caught in the crossfire.

According to recent reports from Holding Redlich, among the proposed amendments to The Fair Work Act are alterations to the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) power to intervene in cases of workplace bullying. Additionally, FWC will receive a $5m increase yearly for anti-bullying orders. These changes are set to be implemented on 1 July.

Bullying is defined in the legislation as unreasonable behaviour towards a worker or group which creates a risk to health and safety; Safe Work Australia has expanded this to include online comments, news.com.au reports.

Under the changes, employees feeling victimised can report the bullying to the FWC. From here, FWC will decide on proceedings, which could include a mediation or hearing between the parties.

If the FWC sees a risk in bullying continuing after a hearing, they have the capacity to order the bullying to stop. They may also order for the employer to monitor those involved and review their bullying policies for any issues with compliance. If the orders are not complied with, penalties and additional, remedial orders will be issued.

The legislation states actions that comply with health and safety laws are permitted, meaning workplaces that are on the level are unlikely to be affected. However, a policy review is still worth your while.

“When the law commences operation in July it is reasonable to expect that employers will face a very real risk of any matter being brought before the FWC then being referred to the safety regulator for investigation,” Michael Selinger, workplace relations partner at Holding Redlich, warned.

For HR professionals, Holding Redlich has recommended undertaking a review of current procedures, and ensuring your workers are complying with them. This will not only avoid trouble with the FWC but, more importantly, will ensure workplace bullying hasn’t gone on undetected.

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