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Landmark FWC ruling: bullying jurisdiction backdated

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HC Online | 19 Mar 2014, 11:37 AM Agree 0
The Fair Work Commission has confirmed that it will accept applications relating to bullying conduct that occurred prior to 1 January, 2014. HC investigates.
  • caca | 19 Mar 2014, 01:08 PM Agree 0
    Although I understand why they came to this judgement, I don't believe this will be good.
    I think it's a fair prediction to say that this will be used by disgruntled employees more so than any actual bullying.
    Also, it is not fair to be able to speak of events that may have happened well before this legislation. And prior to this legislation there likely was not much focus or documentation surrounding bullying.
    I also believe that these rulings will just put off employers from hiring staff, especially permanent (if there is even an inkling of any mental instability/sensitivity I bet those people won't even have a shot anymore).
  • kevin | 19 Mar 2014, 02:07 PM Agree 0
    "prospective future bullying" Given the difficulty in law to demonstrate precedence I would imagine it would be equally difficult to determine "prospective" ie as no set of circumstances are exactly the same what would be basis of such an assessment??
  • Keith Warren | 20 Mar 2014, 12:03 PM Agree 0
    This is a great result

    It will warn employers that they must have policies and procedures in place NOW to ensure it no longer happens.
  • Bernie Althofer | 20 Mar 2014, 09:46 PM Agree 0
    The problem facing organisations is that in some cases, an individual may see or hear about this decision and decide that they should take their changes and lodge a claim.

    However, the real problem for organisations and individuals will be those cases where an individual has been bullied but has little to no documentation, notes or records to show the patterns of behaviour or conduct about which they wish to complain. In cases like this, it will end up being 'my word against your word'.

    Unfortunately it seems that when 'bullying behaviours' are alleged to have occurred, neither the organisational representative or the employee have maintained sufficient detailed records to either support their claim or to refute the allegations.

    Given that targets often appear to be not in control of their thought processes, appear distracted, or even unable to form a coherent response, they become an easier target to 'attack'. At the same time, a person accused of bullying may not have thought that it was important to maintain some notes of conversations, etc.

    It seems that whilst organisations seem to be investing in educational awareness initiatives in relation to bullying and harassment, something is missing. In my view, their is a perpetual risk that bullying allegations may arise in any organisation.

    It seems that organisations should at least conduct a Bullying Risk Assessment and in particular, identify those workplace hazards that might contribute to workplace bullying.

    Organisations that understand the complexity of issues associated with bullying will not be discouraged from employing new or additional personnel. However, I believe they will be more inclined to conduct a Bullying Risk Assessment, and will introduce new or improved controls to manage the risks associated with the workplace hazards identified.

    If the Bullying Risk Assessment is to be effective or even meaningful, the process of consultation and communication will involve a depth and breadth of managers and workers across the organisation. If the Assessment is only conducted at a strategic level, or is imposed, then there is every possibility that the real level of risk exposure is not identified or controlled.
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