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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Think about your bullying procedures - are they in place?

Maralyn Kastel - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Fair Work Act Amendment that started on 1 January 2014 gives victims of workplace bullying and harassment a legislative option to stop the behaviour. Bullying victims can now apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order which will direct either an individual or the employer to stop the bullying. What does this mean for businesses? 

Differing opinions

Many in the legal arena laud the new rules as a step in the right direction. It's the first law that gives victims of workplace bullying a tangible step to take to regain control of their environment. Previously, victims could turn to a Regulatory Authority such as WorkCover. However, many complained about very slow response times and very little enforcement.

The new legislation aims to fill this gap and provide faster response times. Once a complaint is filed with the commission, the Fair Work Commission states they must act within 14 days. 

However, business groups, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce, are concerned that the Commission's power over an employer are too broad and will result in some minor human resource issues being elevated to industrial relations tribunals. "You end up with the very serious matters being mixed in with the very low level issues and that doesn't do justice to the serious matters," stated Chamber Chief Executive Peter Anderson recently.

What you need to do

It's important for businesses that management understand their employee rights and have policies in place to proactively handle claims.

One of the most important aspects is to have a written policy and detailed procedures outlining what action you will take if an employee reports bullying.

It is also vital that you educate your workers on what constitutes bullying and what falls within the reasonable management actions, such as performance management.

If a worker takes a claim to the Commission and an order is issued, make sure your procedures reflect how the order will be implemented.

Take our 2 minute questionnaire and see if you’re procedures need revising.

The Details Devils Pty Ltd specialises in workplace health and safety issues and compliance. Contact us for help understand exactly what your business needs to do to comply with this new legislation.

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