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The Fair Work Commission states that 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.

These actions are not considered to be workplace bullying if they are carried out lawfully and in a reasonable manner, taking the particular circumstances into account. If they are not lawful and reasonable they may still be construed as bullying.  Learn more in this article from HR Legal. Click Here

3 Questions to ask to help determine if it is Workplace Bullying

In their worker’s guide to dealing with workplace bullying, Safework Australia suggests the following three question be answered to help determine if behaviors meet the definition for workplace bullying.

  1. Is the behaviour being repeated?
  2. Is the behaviour unreasonable?
  3. Is the behaviour creating a risk to your health and safety?

Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and 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 means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Workplace bullying can be harmful to the person experiencing it and to those who witness it, although the effects will vary depending on individual characteristics as well as the situation and 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
  • depression
  • thoughts of suicide

Sources accessed 3 Feb 2015 accessed Feb 2015

Looking for Workplace Bullying Training?

eCompliance Training offers a range of online compliance training courses to help organisations reduce the risk of inappropriate behaviour. Click here for more details.

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