The Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently released its April to June quarterly Anti Bullying Report. Some key statistics were:
- 163 applications lodged to stop bullying at work
- 146 of the applications were from employees
- 171 matters were finalised by applications being withdrawn or resolved before being finalised by a decision
- 117 of the applications lodged alleged unreasonable behaviour by their manager
A full copy of the report can be obtained by here. Fair Work Commission Anti Bullying Report -4Q-FYR-14-15
So – what is unreasonable behaviour?
According to the Fair Work Commission, reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner does not constitute bullying.
Reasonable management action may include:
- setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines
- rostering and allocating working hours where the requirements are reasonable
- transferring a worker for operational reasons
- deciding not to select a worker for promotion where a reasonable process is followed
- informing a worker of their unsatisfactory work performance
- informing a worker of their unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour in an objective and confidential way
- implementing organisational changes or restructuring
- taking disciplinary action, including suspension or termination of employment.
If these actions are not carried out in a lawful and reasonable way, they may still be construed as bullying. To learn more, click here.
‘Repeated behaviour’ can involve a range of behaviours over time. A one-off argument between colleagues or with a manager is unlikely to meet the definition of workplace bullying.
Unreasonable behaviour is behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable – including victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
3 Questions to ask to help determine workplace bullying
In their worker’s guide to dealing with workplace bullying, Safework Australia suggests the following three questions be answered to help determine if behaviors meet the definition for workplace bullying:
- Is the behaviour being repeated?
- Is the behaviour unreasonable?
- Is the behaviour creating a risk to your health and safety?
Workplace bullying can be harmful to victims and witnesses, although the effects will vary. It may include one or more of the following:
- distress, anxiety, panic attacks or sleep disturbance
- physical illness, for example muscular tension, headaches and digestive problems
- deteriorating relationships with colleagues, family and friends
- suicidal thoughts
Preventing workplace bullying and wrongful allegations
An organisation must take reasonable steps to prevent workplace bullying. Click here to learn more about what reasonable steps look like. One of these steps is to provide quality training. At eCompliance Training, both our online and face to face training options cover what is and what is not workplace bullying.
Click here to view a sample of our online anti workplace bullying program.
Call Michael on 0434 075 231 to arrange access to an obligation-free trial version, or to receive a proposal.