First “Stop bullying’’ order in the new FWC anti-bullying jurisdiction

Stephen Booth

The first substantive orders have been made in an anti-bullying application in the Fair Work Commission.  Details of the facts of the case (including the names of the parties) are not available, but the agreement reached by the parties at an FWC conference, and the order made by the FWC, included the following provisions:

The reference to exercise being undertaken at the employer’s premises suggests that the employer was a sizable undertaking, and that is likely to have it made more readily feasible to implement a solution based on there being no contact between the applicant and the alleged bully.  Such separation would be much more difficult to organise in a small business, especially if the alleged bully were to be one of a small number of management employees, or the proprietor of the business.  The orders indicate the sort of orders regulating the workplace conduct of the parties in the workplace which might be made in other cases which proceed to be dealt with in full by the Fair Work Commission.
Obviously it is desirable from an employer’s point of view to avoid being party to bullying proceedings before the FWC.  The best way to minimise this risk is to implement clear policies about bullying behaviour in the workplace, to train employees in relation to that policy, and to implement the policy firmly and consistently whenever any conduct which might amount to bullying comes to the attention of management or supervisors.  The commencement of the anti-bullying legislation is an opportunity to review bullying and related policies (eg discrimination, harassment and grievance handling) and undertaking refresher training for managers and staff.
For more information on the anti-bullying jurisdiction or assistance with bullying and harassment complaints in your workplace please contact our experienced Employment Lawyer:

Stephen Booth, Principal
Phone: + 61 2 9895 9222