Employment Law Update
Anti-bullying jurisdiction update

December 2014

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In the first 9 months since the commencement of the anti-bullying jurisdiction, the Fair Work Commission received more than 530 applications for anti-bullying orders, yet only issued 1 order to prevent a worker facing further risks.

In the most recent quarter, NSW based employees made the most applications (58 of just over 160) followed by Victoria (47). Of the 160 odd claims, 90 were made from employers with more than 100 employees, whilst 126 related to issues with managers.

We have been involved in a number of claims since 1 January 2014 (all for employers). All of these claims were settled or withdrawn. The issues that our experience has identified include:

  • it is imperative (as a starting point) for every employer to have an anti-bullying policy and to regularly train its employees about the policy and how it is applied within the business;
  • the policy needs to be applied evenly irrespective of an employee’s position within a business (i.e. including those in managerial positions);
  • claims made against a specific manager require consideration of the level of support that his/her employer will provide (e.g. including representation); and
  • employers need to act in a prompt manner once a complaint is made.

We have seen a sharp increase in the number of matters requiring investigation by employers, arising in turn from a greater number of complaints being made by their employees. Getting an investigation right involves a number of complex issues, including interviewing witnesses, maintaining confidentiality (if possible), applying the right standard of proof (i.e. the balance of probabilities). Employers without the necessary skills to properly conduct investigations expose themselves to potential claims (e.g. adverse action, anti-bullying orders etc.). We can provide investigation training if this is required.

For further information, please contact:

Seamus Burke | Partner
P: +61 2 4926 1733

This document contains information only and should not be relied upon by anyone as constituting legal advice