The Fair Work Commission recently released its first quarterly report on its anti-bullying powers. The report reveals that there were 151 applications to stop alleged bullying at work between January and March this year. All matters were dealt with in the mandatory 14-day period, and the vast majority were resolved without proceeding to a formal decision. Only one application was granted, and you can read the details of that decision in a previous PEEL News.
What is of most interest in the report is the demographic information. It revealed that most applicants were employees (133), most complaints came from those working in large organisations (67), and the greatest number of allegations (109) were against managers.
While 151 seems like a lot of applications, it is heartening to see that very few have progressed to a hearing. It is also evident from the statistics that where the FWC have become more involved, it has been by way of mediation.
The Report is a good reminder to ensure you:
- Proactively train all employees on matters of bullying, but especially managers. It is important for everyone in the workplace to understand the definition of bullying, what it can look like in practice and how to respond. Given the need for managers to direct work and manage performance, it is essential that managers understand the nature of reasonable management action so they can fulfil their duties in a supportive and confident manner.
- Pay attention to claims of bullying, and respond early. While most applications to the FWC are resolved informally there can still be significant impact on working relationships and organisational culture if matters are left to fester before being taken to a formal, external body for consideration. Work at developing systems and processes that allow for the early detection and healthy resolution of workplace issues so they don’t escalate unnecessarily and unkonwingly.
Here is a link to the FWC Quarterly Report.