A Short Guide to Help Resolve Workplace Bullying

Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace – that includes protection from bullying and harassment. 

Australia has national anti-bullying laws in place that are designed to protect workers from unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to their health and safety. If you’re concerned you may have been, or may continue, to be bullied in the workplace, here is our short guide to understanding your rights.

What workplace bullying looks like

A worker is considered to have been exposed to bullying at work if a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards them or a group of workers, and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety. Unreasonable behaviour can include victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening. 

Examples of bullying include:

  • behaving aggressively
  • teasing or practical jokes
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
  • excluding someone from work-related events or
  • unreasonable work demands.

It’s not considered bullying if the behaviour is reasonable management action that’s carried out in a reasonable way, like poor performance management and/or disciplinary action.

What you can do

If it’s safe to do so, you could try to resolve the issues by:

  • talking to the person who is bullying you
  • raising the issue with your supervisor or manager, a health and safety representative or the human resources department.

If no action is taken by your employer and the bullying continues, you could also make a bullying complaint outside of your workplace. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is the body that deals with anti-bullying claims under the Fair Work Act 2009. Although the FWC is not able to issue penalties or award compensation, they can make orders to prevent further bullying, like requiring the person/s to stop the identified behaviour. 

Making a claim

If you are unable to resolve your complaint through your employer’s complaints process, and there’s a risk that the bullying will continue, you may consider seeking legal advice from a legal practitioner. 

If you’ve suffered a psychological or physical injury as a result of the bullying, you may be able to lodge a workers’ compensation claim and seek advice about making a common law claim for damages for a personal injury. In this instance, it’s important to seek legal advice sooner rather than later, as there are time limits to when you’re able to lodge an application for compensation. 

At Gouldson Legal, we’re well versed in the requirements and processes for claiming against WorkCover Queensland and self-insurers. We can assist you in the initial stages of your claim with guidance on what you need to do, how to do it, and where to go to ensure the best outcome. 

We can also help you find other avenues, if WorkCover or a self-insurer has rejected your initial application.

Talk to our lawyers for a free confidential chat

Work-related psychological or psychiatric injuries can significantly affect your quality of life, at work and at home. 

Book in your free case review with one of our compensation lawyers. We’re experts in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims and can help you understand your options.