Bullying in the Workplace

Are you being treated unfairly?

Workplace bullying is repeated unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee, or a group of employees, that creates a risk to their health and safety.

It is not bullying when the behaviour is reasonable performance management. If your boss discusses your poor performance with you in a reasonable manner, this is not bullying.

Bullying behaviour may involve, for example, any of the following types of behaviour:

  • aggressive or intimidating conduct;
  • belittling or humiliating comments;
  • spreading malicious rumours;
  • teasing, practical jokes or ‘initiation ceremonies’;
  • exclusion from work-related events;
  • unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond an employee’s skill level;
  • displaying offensive material;
  • pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.

You should try to address issues of bullying at work by speaking to your supervisor, human resources manager or health and safety representative.  There should be processes already in place in the workplace to deal with issues of bullying, such as a bullying policy or a complaints procedure. You should also speak to your Union if you are in one.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone at work, and the bullying is ongoing, or you don’t think the situation was handled properly, you can make a complaint about bullying to the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission become involved if there is:

  • unreasonable behaviour by a person or people at work;
  • it is repeated;
  • there is a risk to health and safety; and
  • there is a risk the bullying will continue.

For application forms and further information, contact the Fair Work Commission.

FYI – You have the right to make a complaint. If you make a complaint about bullying and, as a result, your employer takes adverse action against you (for example, by reducing your hours or dismissing you), you may have a General Protections claim.

If you need advice or need more information contact Workplace Standards on 1300 366 322 or Worker Assist on 1300 027 747.