Employment and Migration Blog

Asking an employee to do something outside their job description is not bullying behaviour!

Posted by Anna Ford on 7 Aug 2014

In a recent bullying application, the employee, an IT Application Developer, sought an order from the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to stop bullying allegedly inflicted on him by the employer’s General Manager.

The employee asserted that he was being subjected to bullying behaviour on the basis that his General Manager directed him to undertake a project that was not specifically referred to in his job description.

Not only did the FWC find that such conduct did not amount to bullying, it also acknowledged the reality of job descriptions – specifically, that they are couched in general terms and that they do not contain each and every current or projected task to be undertaken by an employee. Interestingly, the FWC also made it clear that “It is not sustainable for employees to say that a task is beyond their skill level and if the employer does not agree, allege that it is workplace bullying”.

In this case the FWC also highlighted as significant the fact that the employee’s employment contract allowed the employer to vary his duties and responsibilities at any time. In my view, all employment contracts should provide scope for the employer to be able to alter an employee’s position, job description and responsibilities from time to time, of course taking into account the employee’s skill level, experience and competencies.

Do you have such a clause in your employment contracts? How long since your employment contracts have been reviewed and updated? If you haven’t had your employment contracts looked at for a couple of years I strongly recommend that you seek legal advice. Having your employment contracts reviewed regularly can save you a lot of money and heartache in the future!

For more advice on employment contracts please contact our experienced employment lawyer: