Language of the Law as a Workplace Bully Prevention Measure

by Nov 5, 2015

Employers may exert the proper authority they want upon their employees, especially when workplace civility is in need. However, Australia’s Fair Work Act 2009 serves as a caveat, for it defined the statutory meaning of ‘bullying’.

Jurisprudence by the Australian Fair Work Commission had set the guidelines in classifying the ‘unreasonable behavior’ into less obvious examples. Accordingly, such decision set a landmark rule which settles all the loopholes perpetrated by violators of the Fair Work Act 2009.

According to previous rulings the FWC have laid down the behaviors found to be unreasonable. It includes delaying administrative work, rude and hostile manner of communication, making a client out of an employee by including them to the debt collecting services, listening to employees’ conversations and asking about its content, non-acknowledgement, failure to inform, and even mere ‘unfriending’ in social media, or any showing of lack of civility at work.

Sec. 78 FD of the Fair Work Act, as defined in Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the criteria which define workplace bullying are: repeated unreasonable behavior, such behavior puts a risk to health and safety, and the work must be in a constitutionally covered workplace.

The term ‘repeated’ may be construed to refer to a range of behavior over time which includes sarcasm, bad faith, isolating, freezing out, belittling, and innuendo. Meanwhile, ‘risk to health and safety’ construes as suffering physically or from depression, anxiety, or if the offended was required a medical or psychological treatment.

Nevertheless, one can eliminate bullying through workplace bully trainings, civility consulting, worker feedbacks, and incident reports.

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About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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