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Bullying at work

Posted on 2/12/2015 by


Bullying at work

Bullying at work, as defined by the Fair Work Act 2009, occurs when:

a person or a group of people behaves unreasonably and repeatedly towards a worker or a group of workers while at work, andthe behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Bullying does not include reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

However, according to Fair Work Commission, in order for it to be bullying the behavior must be repeated and unreasonable and must create a risk to health and safety.

Examples of these behaviors include but are not limited to:

  • Aggressive or intimidating conduct
  • Belittling or humiliating comments
  • Unjustified criticism or complaints
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Teasing, practical jokes or 'initiation ceremonies'
  • Deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities
  • Unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker's skill level
  • Displaying offensive material
  • Pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.
  • Changing work arrangements such as rosters and leave to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or workers.

According to Bully Blocking, More than one in five people are bullied at work; in some industries, such as health, welfare, education and government and semi–government services, the figure is far higher, ranging from 25%, 50% to 97% (Duncan and Riley study).

About one in three employees are affected by workplace bullying.

Bullying places their health, well-being, safety and career at risk, interferes with job performance and creates a toxic working environment.

What to do if I feel like I am getting bullied at work?

If you're being bullied at work, there are steps you can take to stop it. 

They include:

  • Checking your work's policy on bullying and harassment
  • Writing down what happens so you've got records of the bullying
  • Talking to people you trust – whether it’s a friend, counsellor, or other support person
  • Talking to the bully about their behaviour, if you feel safe doing this
  • Telling a manager or supervisor
  • Taking it further: if you can't resolve the issue in your workplace, you can talk to the Fair Work 
  • Commission and get more info on their anti-bullying process, speak to a union rep, or if the bullying is violent or threatening, go to the police

Useful websites:

Fair Work Commission

Reach Out

Bully Zero Australia Foundation

Australian Human Rights Commission

Safe Work Australia