Last week we visited the Fair Work Commission in Brisbane and were privileged to sit in on a presentation delivered by Deputy President Ingrid Asbury on the FWC Anti-bullying jurisdiction. We were given the opportunity to talk in detail with Deputy President Asbury regarding workplace bullying and how the Commission reviews and considers each and every application. Some excellent case studies were discussed highlighting the realty that workplace bullying can affect any business/employer.
The role of the commission is to mediate between the parties on a case by case basis and to come to remedy the allegations within their determinative powers and natural justice obligations. The commission has an ultimate goal of resolving workplace relationships.
In 2014, 701 applications were lodged and not surprisingly employees within the clerical, health and welfare services and retail (Lorna Jane) are the top three industries lodging grievances. Of those applicants the commission recorded the majority of those employees were aged 30 – 45 and are female. 15% of those applications were dismissed by the tribunal, 40% were resolved through mediation and 44% were dismissed. Only two cases were resolved by the Commission with enforceable outcomes for both parties.
In determining whether or not the allegations are in fact substantiated, the Commission considers:
- Did the incident occur at work
- Was the conduct actually bullying and harassment (as per the Fair Work definition)
- Did the employer/business take reasonable management action in a reasonable manner
- Is there future risk of bullying.
We now have an in-depth understanding of the best way to implement preventative measures into the workplace and or provide advice (within our scope) to an employer should a workplace bullying and harassment application be submitted to the FWC. If you would like more information about workplace bullying and harassment, and methods to ensure it doesn’t happen within your workplace, contact us for an an obligation free conversation regarding your concerns.
Statistics supplied from the Commonwealth of Australia – FWC October, 2015