Workplace bullying can have serious impacts on both mental and physical health. Both workplaces and employees have a role to play in minimising the risk of workplace bullying in QLD. In this article we explain what is considered workplace bullying and what you can do to stop it if you are being targeted.
What is workplace bullying?
Worksafe Queensland defines work-related bullying as repeated and unreasonable behaviour towards either a worker, or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety. This includes a range of behaviours such as victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening. To determine if behaviour is workplace bullying ask yourself if the behaviour is being repeated and is unreasonable.
According to the Queensland Government, examples of workplace bullying behaviour include:
- Abusive, insulting, or offensive comments or language
- Unjustified criticism or complaints
- Deliberate exclusion from workplace activities
- Not sharing important information required for that person to work effectively
- Setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
- Setting tasks that go unreasonably below or beyond someone’s skillset
- Spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
- Deliberately changing rosters or leave to inconvenience someone
What isn’t considered workplace bullying in QLD?
As you might have learned throughout life, you don’t always get along with everyone. And this is just a part of life. While they may still be unpleasant scenarios, certain things are not considered workplace bullying. Generally, a single act of unreasonable behaviour, management action that is lawful and reasonable, and differences in opinion are not considered workplace bullying.
How can employers manage workplace bullying risks?
As well as being important to your workers’ wellbeing, failure to manage the risk of workplace bullying can result in a breach of Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws. The risk of workplace bullying can be minimised through implementing control measures to manage these risks, monitoring and reviewing control measures, and early identification of unreasonable behaviour. Read the Safe Work Australia Guide for preventing and responding to workplace bullying for a more comprehensive guide.
How can workers manage workplace bullying risks?
Workers have a duty to minimise the risk of workplace bullying in QLD too. It’s important to:
- Take care of your own health and safety at work
- Take care that your acts and behaviour don’t negatively affect the health and safety of others
- Follow any instructions given to minimise workplace bullying risks
- Follow bullying policies and procedures
How do I lodge a workplace bullying complaint?
If you experience workplace bullying the first step is to try to resolve it internally where possible and safe to do so. Talk to the person directly, report it to your manager or supervisor, the owner of the business, or if impossible internally, make a bullying complaint outside of your workplace, and seek an order from the Fair Work Commission.
If the conduct is causing health issues, then you should consult with your doctor and be sure to provide details of the behaviour.
If your complaint falls within the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) will handle your complaint. It’s important to attempt to resolve the situation internally before you contact WHSQ.
To lodge a workplace bullying complaint, you can contact WHSQ on 1300 362 128 and they will provide an information pack which you will need to complete and return to them.
If your complaint falls within WHSQ’s scope and there’s a risk of injury or illness, an inspector may be assigned to investigate your complaint. They will assess whether the duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 are being met and if the situation is being effectively managed.
The inspector may request evidence such as:
- Incident records
- A policy that outlines appropriate work behaviour standards
- Copies of reporting and response procedures
- Proof of how the complaint has been investigated
- Steps that were taken to resolve the issue
- Staff training records
When the inspector visits the workplace, they may interview staff members and review documents. If there is a failure to meet the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, they may enforce these standards using action such verbal direction, improvement and infringement notices. They are experienced and will use the most appropriate option to get the best possible outcome.
While WHSQ can take measures to resolve the workplace bullying issue, they don’t issue orders to stop these behaviours. If required, you can seek an order from the Fair Work Commission, but you must be employed in the business where the bullying is happening.
If at any stage of the process you need immediate emotional support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Can I make a workers compensation claim for workplace bullying in QLD?
While WHSQ provides a process for attempting to resolve workplace bullying issues, they do not provide legal advice. If you feel like your complaint has not resolved the workplace bullying issue or you’ve suffered psychological or physical injury, you may wish to pursue legal action.
We can help you determine whether you have a solid case with an obligation-free, confidential discussion. Our lawyers are well-versed in the complexities and sensitivities of these types of cases and will help you understand your options. Book in your free case review with one of our compensation lawyers to learn more and get answers to your questions.