How to prepare your business for new workplace bullying laws
Most employers should be aware of the new workplace bullying laws which came into effect on January 1 this year. The significant changes to the Government’s Fair Work Act (2009) means that there are many amendments to the way allegations of workplace bullying are dealt with which have significant implications for businesses.
Employers can’t afford to have their head in the sand when it comes to these new laws, and the ways they handle (or mishandle) a report of workplace bullying could be the difference between a complaint that is quickly resolved and one which ends up before the courts, costing the company time, money and potential damage to their reputation.
Workers who allege bullying will now be able to lodge an order to stop the bullying assessed within 14 days by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). If found that bullying has occurred the business must take reasonable steps to address this and if the bullying was of a nature that caused a risk to health and safety of the employee, the business and defendant could be liable for costly financial penalties.
To avoid damage to your business, it’s essential that you plan for this new legislation with robust HR policies and procedures that include strategies to minimise bullying and defend against any claims made.
Ways to protect your staff and business:
- Understand the differences between bullying and strong personalities. Know what exactly constitutes bullying and how to identify excessive sensitivity from legitimate bullying to avoid making taking the wrong action.
- Investigate instances of workplace bullying in a timely and fair manner using a tried and tested investigation process that will stand up to scrutiny by external bodies.
- Implement anti-bullying policies in your workplace or make amendments to harassment and bullying policies to send a strong message that bullying is not tolerated.
- Have a complaints handling procedure that staff trust and have confidence in to reduce the chance of intervention by a third party.
Our industrial relations consultancy team at Harrison Human Resources can advise your business on the best course of action to take to develop strong and effective anti-bullying policies. We can also work with your organisation to develop a water tight investigation process that effectively addresses and resolves cases of workplace bullying to provide the best possible outcome for your business.