It is estimated that workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination costs Australian businesses up to thirty-six billion dollars every year. In addition to the economic cost’s workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination has significant personal costs to victims which includes financial cost and negative impacts on their mental health with bullying, harassment and discrimination being a major risk for anxiety, depression, and suicide (Head-up).
To gain a strong understanding on the significant impact workplace bullying and harassment can have on Victims and the possible consequences to workplaces and perpetrators we encourage you to watch the following video on Brodies Law.
What is Workplace Bullying?
The Fair work Act considers that Workplace bullying occurs when one person or multiple people repeatedly behave in a way that impacts on the health and safety of others. It also identifies the following as examples of workplace bullying.
· Behaving aggressively towards others
· Teasing or playing practical jokes
· Pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
· Excluding someone from work-related events
· Unreasonable work demands
· Repeated incidences of sexual harassment
What is Sexual Harassment?
The Fair Work Act considers sexual harassment as any behaviour that occurs when it is reasonable to expect that the action of another person would offend, humiliate, or intimidate the victim. These may include;
· Making an unwelcome sexual advance
· Making an unwelcome request for sexual favors
· Engaging in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another worker
What is Discrimination?
The Fair Work Act prohibits an employer from taking adverse action against an employee for discriminatory reasons. This may include;
· their sex or gender
Preventing Workplace Bullying and Harassment
The most effective way to reduce bullying in the workplace is educating staff and managers on what constitutes as bullying and what steps an employee can take if they believe they are being bullied in the workplace. The workplace also needs to ensure that there are effective policies that align with Australian legislation, in addition to a consistent approach to investigative procedures for reports of workplace bullying (Heads-Up).
For further information The Fair work Australia webpage contains useful recourse for employers and employees to help prevent and deal with workplace bullying and harassment. These include fact sheets, legislative requirements, quizzes for employees to help them identify if they are experiencing bullying, harassment, or discrimination, and provides an avenue for employees to lodge a stop bullying application with the Fair Work Commission.
In addition to the Fair Work Commission, Heads-Up is a web page developed by Beyond Blue and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance that provides general information to employees, employers and managers about work place bullying and more specific information for employers and managers to help you take action against bullying in your workplace.
Supporting the Psychological Wellbeing of Victims of Bullying
Anyone who believes they are experiencing workplace bullying, harassment, or discrimination should be encouraged to discuss with their line manager or HR department and access counselling though their EAP service.