Responding to Stop Bullying Applications – March HR Breakfast Club Summary
This month, Rebecca Richardson, Lawyer – Employment & Industrial Law Group at BAL Lawyers, spoke about the Fair Work Commission’s Anti-bullying jurisdiction and strategies for employers responding to Stop Bullying Applications.
Rebecca gave us an introduction to the definition of bullying under the Fair Work Act 2009:
A worker is bullied at work if:
(a) while the worker is at work:
(i) an individual; or
(ii) a group of individuals;
repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and
(b) that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
Reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner is not ‘bullying’.
Rebecca spoke about the grounds on which an employee might oppose an application:
- The alleged ‘bullying’ doesn’t meet the definition of ‘bullying’ under the Act;
- The alleged ‘bullying’ was ‘reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner’.
- The application is frivolous or vexatious
- There is no risk that the worker will continue to be bullied at work by the individual or group. I.e.
- the employee is no longer employed;
- the named respondent is no longer employed.
Rebecca’s advice to employers who are perhaps attending a conference convened by the Fair Work Commission in order to resolve disputes before a hearing is to:
- Come prepared with solutions (i.e. see what you can easily do to address the concerns of the worker);
- Be open and willing to discuss the matter with the employee;
- Avoid being adversarial; and
- Above all, appear reasonable.
Participants at the HR Breakfast club engaged in discussion about whether or not the Anti-bullying jurisdiction is achieving its aim (to reduce bullying in the workplace) noting that there have been very few stop bullying orders ever ordered by the Fair Work Commission.
If you need help responding to a Stop Bullying Application please contact BAL Lawyers.