Workplace Bullying: committee makes recommendations to ‘stop’ bullying

The Committee has submitted its report on workplace bullying after hearing over 300 submissions from employees who have experienced workplace bullying, employers and key organisations. The report titled, “Workplace Bullying: We just want it to stop,” addresses the issue of workplace bullying, which causes $6-$36 billion a year in productivity losses. The inquiry into nationalising bullying laws and policies was triggered by the suicide of 19 year old café worker, Brodie Panlock, who was severely bullied at work.

The report focuses heavily on setting national standards to regulate and monitor workplace bullying. The key recommendation is establishing a new national service to provide employment law advice, assistance and resolution services to both employers and employees which provides a practical and effective means of dealing with bullying in the workplace. The service would also include a hotline for workers to call to report instances of workplace bullying.

Other main recommendations include setting out a national definition of workplace bullying and providing more education and training on workplace law and bullying. It was suggested that this could be achieved by providing online training packages for employers and on-site help for workplaces. The Committee also recommended criminal sanctions for bullying and that the government consider establishing an independent investigation referral service.

Further recommendations included strengthening existing bullying in the workplace laws, addressing inconsistencies in the laws between State jurisdictions and quickly implementing the Safe Work Australia Code of Practice on workplace bullying that has been delayed until the first half of 2013. We await with much anticipation the final version of the Code to finally provide our employer clients with employment advice on policy and procedure guidelines to assist in managing this new epidemic.

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