Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace




Workplace Bullying

If you are concerned that you may have been or continue to be bullied in the workplace, you do have rights. There are national anti-bullying laws in Australia which are designed to protect employees, outworkers, work experience students, contractors, subcontractors, volunteers and some government employees.

What is Bullying?

An individual will be considered to have been exposed to bullying at work if a person or persons have repeatedly acted unreasonably towards them or a group of workers and that behaviour has created a risk to the individual or individuals’ health and safety.

Unreasonable behaviour will include:

  • victimising;
  • humiliating;
  • intimidating or threating.

For example, if another employee or your employer is behaving aggressively, teasing, or you’ve been the source of a practical joke this may amount to bullying. Additionally, if you are pressured to act inappropriately, are excluded from work-related events, or are forced to meet unreasonable work demands this may also be considered as ‘bullying’.

What is Not Considered to be Bullying?

Reasonable management action will not be considered as bullying in the workplace. What this means is a manager is entitled to make decisions which relate to poor performance, disciplinary action or the direction and control work is carried out in the workplace. If, however, you do not believe a manager has acted reasonably in the circumstances their action may still be considered as bullying behaviour.

Who is Covered by Workplace Bullying Laws?

A person who carries out work in any capacity for a person conducting a business or undertaking will be covered by the workplace anti-bullying laws. Therefore, if you are an employee, contractor/subcontractor, apprentice, trainee or volunteer you will, in most cases, be protected under the workplace bullying laws in Australia.

What can be Done to Resolve Workplace Bullying?

If you are eligible and you have suffered bullying in the workplace you will be entitled to make an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The FWC has a number of powers to make orders to prevent further bullying. Remedies the FWC can order include:

  1. requiring the person or persons to stop the specified behaviour;
  2. regular monitoring of behaviours by an employer or principal;
  3. requirements for compliance with an employer’s or principal’s bullying policy;
  4. provision of information, additional support and training to workers; and
  5. review of the employer’s or principal’s bullying policy.

The FWC cannot, however, issue fines or penalties and is unable to award financial compensation in bullying matters even where there is a positive finding of bullying in the workplace.

Other Resources

Further information in relation to workplace bullying and reasonable management action can be found on:


Fair Work Commission

Focused on Results

It is essential you have experienced solicitors when dealing with disputes relating to bullying in the workplace and employment law. Our employment law team can attend mediations between yourself and your employer, negotiate on your behalf, assist you to make a Fair Work application, and will make sure your rights are protected. We can also offer advice to employers if an application through Fair Work Australia has been brought against your business.

Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane are focused on results. Our solicitors can assist you with all employment matters. Call today to discuss your needs.

Office Location and Contact Details


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Brisbane QLD 4000

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