Bullying claims – what you need to know
When a workplace bullying claim emerges, it’s not just the Fair Work Act an employee can access to resolve a claim.
But many employers are unaware that remedies are not confined to the Fair Work Act.
Employee Relations Adviser Aaron Dockery says CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre receives lots of calls about bullying situations.
“There are stop bullying orders in the Fair Work Act and that is what everyone pays the most attention to but that is not always where you want to look,” he says.
“Unless you contravene one of those orders, it is far from the worst to be hit with if you have a bullying situation in the workplace.
“Workers’ compensation for instance, there are avenues to claim through there and I think that is quite popular for a lot of employees.
“There are also criminal proceedings, which are not common and there is OSH legislation which does cover it by extension but doesn’t mention bullying outright.”
Dockery says unfair dismissal claims are where it can become costly for an employer.
“So, if someone is bullied and they feel like they have no choice but to resign and you’ve handled it poorly, there’s potentially compensation there,” he says.
“You want to sort it out internally and that’s what I will lead into, after I outline the worst scenarios.”
He says the other avenue that employers must consider are claims via general protections.
“So, if someone raises a bullying complaint you don’t want to be seen to not take any action, even if it is frivolous,” he says.
“We’ve had calls where people say this person has made 10 bullying complaints in the past few months, it’s starting to be a pain in the backside, can I just throw this out.
“You still have to look into it, and it can be a quick process but you still have to take it into consideration and and then you can warn them. It can’t be a boy cried wolf situation where you start to ignore it every time it comes up.”
“An employer must deal with it or leave themselves open to a claim, and it’s not like the employee can’t be performance managed for making baseless claims time and again.”
Employers must also take action, even if the person says they do not want you to do anything about it, Dockery says.
“We have calls where someone has come into the office and said they have been bullied but are explicitly stating they don’t want the person to do anything about it. But you have a duty to act.”
Contact the Employee Relations Advice team today on (08) 9365 7660.