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Workplace bullying laws are getting closer

In keeping with his announcement earlier this year (see our previous discussion of that announcement here), the Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has introduced the Fair Work Act Amendment Bill to Parliament on 21 March 2013.

The Bill will introduce Australia’s first anti-workplace bullying laws.

Employers will now be able to assess the proposed law’s potential impact on their workplaces.

As the Minister indicated previously, the workplace bullying amendments will implement the Government’s response to key recommendations from the report of the House of Representatives Committee Inquiry into workplace bullying.

The Bill adopts the previously accepted definition of “worker” as per the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth).

Implication for employers

No longer will employers be able to keep workplace bullying issues ‘in-house’.

Workers will be able to effectively bypass internal procedures by applying directly to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop perceived bullying. The Commission will have the power to make a a range of orders under the proposed changes.

There is no doubt that the workplace bullying discussion is far from over. But, prudent employers must act now to deter the Commission from unnecessarily intervening in their workplace.

This includes:

  • ensuring key personnel know how to investigate reports of workplace bullying
  • updating and enforcing workplace bullying/code of conduct policies
  • ensuring a timely investigation of a report of workplace bullying.

The HR Investigator™ will continue to keep readers up-to-date about the passage of anti-workplace bullying laws through parliament to its commencement including by providing further analysis about its practical effect on employers.

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