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10 September 2016 Posted by 


Prevention starts with training

By Brett Murray

THIS month we want to bring a little more clarity to the subject of workplace bullying. Let’s revisit some information I shared last month and expand a little.

According to the industrial relations laws now in place, any enterprise that employs more than three individuals must provide workplace anti-bullying training.

These same industrial relations laws that involve directly the Fair Work Commission (FWC) can be confusing at best. We aim to bring some much needed clarity, as many organisations ask us to do as we deliver our MBH Workplace anti-bullying training.

Let's uncover what bullying actually is.

Bullying is the ongoing, repeated and often targeted violence, threats of violence or antagonising behavior by a person or group of people carried out towards another person or group of people resulting in an imbalance of power.

The FWC states it as this;
789FD When is a worker bullied at work?
1.      (1)  A worker is bullied at work if: 1.  (a)  while the worker is at work in a constitutionally-covered business: (i) an individual; or (ii) a group of individuals;
repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member; and
2.     (b)  that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
2. The exception is as follows;  (2)  To avoid doubt, subsection (1) does not apply to reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

So that is what bullying is. The laws are skewed and weighted towards the employee. The onus is on the employer to prove that they have not in fact bullied their employee.

During this time, employees can make workers compensation claims for stress leave, enter into Employee Assistant Programs (EAP's), receive counselling, all at the expense of the employer, all whilst still receiving their salary.

During this time, they cannot be terminated as this constitutes unfair dismissal. All the while, not actually being at work doing their job!

With performance based management becoming the more preferred method of managing staff and contractors, this new system from the FWC opens the door for many false workplace bullying claims.

A contractor who has underperformed has a manager, boss, superior hold them to account, (remember accountability!) and reviews their contract, without having received workplace anti-bullying training, the employee simply makes a claim and off we go.
But if workplace anti-bullying training has been delivered over and above the simple induction process and codes of expected appropriate conduct, then they don't have a leg to stand on, as the expectations have been clearly identified at the commencement of employment or contract.

The important note I want to make here is training that goes above and beyond just risk and compliance.

Training, that actually delivers clear and concise behavior outlines and definitions, which also contributes to the staff feeling like they have been valued, invested in, and creates a more positive workplace environment, reducing negativity, anxiety and helps dissipate any atmosphere that is conducive to bullying or complaints.

The law further states that any office bearer, which can be interpreted in many different ways, who is aware of bullying behaviour and is action-less, in other words, does nothing, is liable for up to $50,000. Personally!
That's the legal landscape, an easy solution, provide appropriate positive workplace anti-bullying training. Having delivered this type of training to many organisations large and small in Australia and New Zealand, it is incredible the feedback employers are given afterwards.

Employees thank their bosses, managers, HR team, for giving them the opportunity to sit through the training. The tools they receive, not only help them enjoy the workplace more, but they are tools that can be implemented across all spheres of life.

The Federal Productivity Commission stated that work place bullying costs the Federal economy in excess of $36Billion per annum in lost productivity.

Workplaces are hemorrhaging funds because there is very few organisations out there that provide real proven training that actually helps stop workplace bullying.

We know this because we are one of the very few that does, and we are often in the place where we have to clear the waters muddied by legal firms just looking to stir up the muck to get a buck.

Provide the proper training, invest in your greatest asset, your staff, and you will reap the rewards,

Brett Murray is CEO of the Make Bullying History Foundation. Visit:







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