The first substantive orders have been made in an anti-bullying
application in the Fair Work Commission. Details of the facts of
the case (including the names of the parties) are not available,
but the agreement reached by the parties at an FWC conference, and
the order made by the FWC, included the following provisions:
The alleged bully was not to have contact with the applicant
employee alone, and was not to comment on the applicant's
clothes or appearance.
The alleged bully was not to send any emails or texts to the
applicant employee, except in an emergency, and was not to raise
any work issues with the applicant without notifying the COO of the
employer, or his subordinate, beforehand.
The alleged bully was required to complete any exercise at the
employer's premises before 8.00am, and the applicant was
required not to arrive at work before 8.15am.
If there were difficulties in implementing the order, the
parties had leave to return to the FWC to have the matter further
The reference to exercise being undertaken at the employer's
premises suggests that the employer was a sizable undertaking, and
that is likely to have it made more readily feasible to implement a
solution based on there being no contact between the applicant and
the alleged bully. Such separation would be much more difficult to
organise in a small business, especially if the alleged bully were
to be one of a small number of management employees, or the
proprietor of the business. The orders indicate the sort of orders
regulating the workplace conduct of the parties in the workplace
which might be made in other cases which proceed to be dealt with
in full by the Fair Work Commission.
Obviously it is desirable from an employer's point of view
to avoid being party to bullying proceedings before the FWC. The
best way to minimise this risk is to implement clear policies about
bullying behaviour in the workplace, to train employees in relation
to that policy, and to implement the policy firmly and consistently
whenever any conduct which might amount to bullying comes to the
attention of management or supervisors. The commencement of the
anti-bullying legislation is an opportunity to review bullying and
related policies (eg discrimination, harassment and grievance
handling) and undertaking refresher training for managers and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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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.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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