Bullying is increasingly attracting headlines. Earlier
this year, we saw the introduction of "Brodie's law"
in Victoria to criminalise behaviours that are typical of serious
workplace bullying. More recently, Pacific Brands has made
headlines in relation to a $9 million claim by a former employee
which includes alleged workplace bullying.
There is no national statutory definition of, nor prohibition
against, workplace bullying. That said, it has long been accepted
that workplace bullying can create exposure under occupational
health and safety legislation for failing to provide a safe place
And now, Safe Work Australia has finally released the Draft Code
of Practice Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying
(Draft Code) as part of the OH&S Harmonisation
regime due to kick in on 1 January 2012.
One of the features of the model health and safety laws is the
introduction of approved Codes of Practice. Although the Codes of
Practice will not have statutory force like the Act and
Regulations, application of an approved Code of Practice on a
subject matter is admissible as evidence of whether an obligation
under the Act has been complied with.
Not surprisingly, the Draft Code addresses in some detail the
recommended content of a workplace policy and procedure in relation
to bullying and complaint handling. Perhaps more surprisingly, the
Draft Code provides that consultation with workers and their health
and safety representatives must be carried out in the development
of workplace bullying policies and procedures.
The Draft Code is now up for public comment, so no doubt there
will be some tinkering before it's finalised. Either way, now
is a good time to review your existing bullying policy in light of
the Draft Code or, if you don't have one, get one in place.
Getting your house in order now is bound to make compulsory
consultation a smoother process, assuming of course the requirement
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Treasurer Scott Morrison recently announced changes to a number of 2016 Budget superannuation contribution measures.
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