The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Federal Review of Workplace Bullying

Graham Marshall - Saturday, August 25, 2012

Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Government announced a review of so-called "workplace bullying".

The review comes in response to figures released by the Australian Productivity Commission estimating that workplace bullying costs the Australian economy up to $35 billion each year.

The aim of the Review is to consider:

+    The nature, causes and extent of workplace bullying;

+    The prevention strategies for bullying in the workplace; and
+    Methods of support for individuals affected by bullying.

The Committee is due to report its findings in November 2012.

The terms of reference for the Review are broad and the Review is intended to complement the work being undertaken by Safe Work Australia and the State and Territory governments in relation to workplace bullying.

As a result of the Review, the Federal Government may look to introduce national laws for managing and preventing workplace bullying across Australia.

Until then, however, there are actions that employers can take that minimize the risk to business arising from workplace bullying. These steps include:

+    Identifying the risk factors for workplace bullying;

+    Developing appropriate policies and procedures that minimize and manage the risk factors;

+    Ensuring that policies and procedures are communicated to employees and regularly reviewed;

+    Taking complaints of workplace bullying seriously; and

+    Investigating complaints of workplace bullying in a timely manner.

It is important that when taking these steps employers provide procedural and substantive fairness to all, including those against whom a complaint of workplace bullying is made, as there are a number of potential pitfalls for employers.

The Risk Tool Box recommend that employers actively manage workplace bullying complaints in order to avoid those pitfalls.

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