Since January 2014, the Fair Work Commission has had the power to deal with cases of alleged bullying at work. A worker in a constitutional corporation who reasonably believes they have been bullied at work can apply to the FWC for an order to stop the bullying.
The definition of bullying is quite broad, including any repeated unreasonable behaviour towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. However, 'reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner' does not constitute bullying.
The FWC's jurisdiction in this area is quite new and there remains some scope for interpretation about what is and is not bullying.
In order to assist parties lodging and responding to claims related to workplace bullying, the FWC has published an Anti-bullying Benchbook. This resource includes plain English summaries of the relevant case law and how this has been applied in FWC decisions.
The resource also includes principles, references and examples from recent anti-bullying decisions, and includes a flowchart of the FWC's process.
The Anti-bullying Benchbook contains a readily understandable guide to FWC processes and will be a useful resource for practitioners and parties to anti-bullying cases.
The commentary in relation to principles and case law also provides a helpful guide for businesses in understanding what types of behaviours might be considered workplace bullying, and which should therefore be the subject of appropriate HR policies and preventative management action.