New bullying figures spark warning

07 December, 2016

One in 10 Australian workers are being subjected to bullying in the workplace – a jump of 40 per cent in the past five years, according to a new report by Safe Work Australia.

The Bullying & Harassment In Australian Workplaces Report examined eight different forms of bullying, from being sworn or yelled at through to physical assault.

CCI Workplace Consulting Manager Ryan Martin says the new figures warrant an urgent reminder to employers of their duty of care to provide a safe workplace for employees.

“This includes an environment free from bullying,” Martin says.

“Employers need to ensure they’ve trained employees about what constitutes workplace bullying or discrimination and have adequate bullying and harassment policies and grievance procedures in place for those employees who feel they’ve been victimised.”

Martin says while managers and supervisors are often identified as being the source of bullying behaviour, not all managerial conduct constitutes bullying.

“Managers and supervisors are often required to carry out reasonable performance management but this must be done in a reasonable way, so it’s also important that managers and supervisors receive appropriate training on what constitutes workplace bullying and harassment.”

Investigate thoroughly

If you receive a bullying complaint, it’s critical your policies and procedures give guidance as to how an investigation will take place if required.

“Where a workplace investigation needs to be undertaken, it must be carried out in a procedurally fair and unbiased manner to ensure the employees involved are given an opportunity to give their sides of the story,” Martin advises.

“The investigator will need to gather evidence and make a determination as to whether the allegations of bullying can be substantiated.

“The employer may choose to do this internally if they have adequately skilled staff, however investigations are often outsourced to an impartial third party investigator.”