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Bullying in the workplace

Workplace bullying is any repeated, unreasonable behaviour which creates a risk to a worker’s health and safety in the workplace.

It can be verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse by your employer or manager, another worker or group of people at work.

Bullying can be in the form of:

  • Repeated aggressive or intimidating conduct
  • Belittling or humiliating comments
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Teasing, practical jokes or ‘initiation ceremonies’
  • Exclusion from work-related events
  • Unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker’s skill level
  • Displaying offensive material
  • Pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner

Implications of workplace bullying

Your employer must provide you with a safe workplace and any tolerance of bullying is a serious breach of your employer’s duty of care.

Workplace bullying is best dealt with by taking steps to prevent it from happening and responding quickly if it does occur.

The longer the behaviour continues, the harder it becomes to repair working relationships and the greater the risk to health and safety.

What is not workplace bullying:

  • Reasonable management action taken in a reasonable and fair way
  • Constructive and supportive feedback/conversations regarding your workplace performance
  • Unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment is not workplace bullying but is unlawful and should be reported
  • Differences of opinion/disagreements (if not managed correctly, these conflicts
    could become workplace bullying)

What to do if you experience bullying:

Check if your workplace has a bullying policy and reporting procedure you can follow.

The policy should outline how your organisation will prevent and respond to workplace bullying.

Calmly tell the offender that you object to their behaviour and ask them to stop it – only if you feel comfortable

Keep records of any incidents including dates, times, locations and witnesses.

If the bullying occurs online, take screenshots of any interactions.

Stop Bullying Order

Workplace bullying is unlawful.

If it persists a worker can make an application to the Fair Work Commission for a Stop Bullying Order.

The SDA can assist and represent members in the process.

Workplace bullying is a health and safety risk. If you’re experiencing bullying, the SDA is here to help find a solution.

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