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New Australian anti-bullying laws 2014: is your business ready?


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The new anti-bullying laws take effect from the 1st January 2014. This webinar, presented by Andrew Bland, takes a timely look at the new bullying jurisdiction and what it will mean for your business.
From January 2014, workers who are being bullied at work will be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission for orders to stop the bullying. There will be consequences for employers who contravene these orders.
The webinar provides an overview of:
the definition of bullying;
who can make an application;
the application process;
the ‘reasonable management action’ exception; and
what happens if orders are not followed.
The webinar wraps up with practical steps for employers to ensure they are compliant and ready for the new laws.

Published in: Business, Career
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New Australian anti-bullying laws 2014: is your business ready?

  1. 1. New Bullying Laws December 2013 By Andrew Bland The information in this presentation is general in nature and does not constitute formal legal advice.
  2. 2. Introduction 2. Bullying - the current landscape 3. Who is covered by new jurisdiction? 4. Bullying – definition 5. Reasonable management action 6. FWC process 7. FWC orders 8. Penalties 9. Practical steps for employers 10. Commentary 1.
  3. 3.  From 1 January 2014, the Fair Work Act will be amended to include a new bullying jurisdiction  Large number of claims expected  Employers who are prepared should not be concerned by the changes  Be prepared - make sure you understand the new laws and that your policies are legally compliant.
  4. 4.  Bullying raised indirectly through a number of different claims: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Unfair dismissal General Protections claims (adverse action) Discrimination Injury and disability Termination and temporary absence Workers compensation and stress-related claims
  5. 5.  New claim under the Fair Work Act A worker who is bullied at work can apply to the FWC for orders to stop the bullying  Need to consider definition, coverage, relevant matters and process
  6. 6.  ‘Worker’ • Includes contractors; sub contractors; apprentices; volunteers - wide range. • Are they connected to, or do they work for, a ‘constitutionally covered’ business  ‘Constitutionally covered business’ • Corporations – ie foreign; and trading or financial • Commonwealth and Territory employees • Unincorporated businesses excluded eg sole traders; partnerships
  7. 7.  ‘Bullied at work’ • Definition included in the amendments • If an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.  Two key elements: • Repeated and unreasonable behaviour • That creates a risk
  8. 8.  Specific exclusion for reasonable management action  Not a blanket exception for all management action  Note the requirement that the action must be ‘carried out in a reasonable manner’  Intended operation is fair and consistent performance management that is justified in the circumstances.
  9. 9.  FWC must deal with an application within 14 days. • some action - may not be a hearing or conference in that time frame.  FWC will check application is complete and serve it on other parties.  Assessment process  Mediation or hearing  Appeal option
  10. 10.  Wide power to make orders to stop the bullying  Must first be satisfied that: • Worker has been bullied; and • That there is a risk the bullying will continue.  Orders must be non-pecuniary (ie no orders for compensation or fines).  Orders may be directed at individuals to stop certain behaviour; to monitor behaviour; policy compliance and policy review.
  11. 11.  Civil penalty provisions  Sanctions for breaching an FWC order  Fines: • Individuals up to $10,200 • Corporations up to $51,000
  12. 12.  Review workplace policies • Clear statement that prohibits bullying • Define bullying • Internal complaints handling process  Note this is a relevant consideration for FWC  Consider workplace training that includes bullying  Workplace health check: • Is there a workplace culture/ behaviour problem? • Does management model good behaviour?
  13. 13.  Review and update policy suite  How are employees made aware of policies? • Consider workplace policy training/ implementation  Performance reviews  Does management model best practice?  If necessary, follow a robust performance management process  If unsure, seek assistance.
  14. 14.  Applications expected to increase from Jan 2014  FWC has released an Anti-Bullying Benchbook  If you are prepared and across the changes, should be minimal impact  If you are aware of workplace issues now, act promptly and get advice early
  15. 15.
  16. 16.  Private company owned by Andrew Bland  Established in 2003 and located in North Ryde, NSW.  Core expertise: • Industrial relations / Employment law  Additional expertise: • All aspects of general commercial law • Social media law.
  17. 17.  For more information, please contact: • Andrew Bland • Principal, BlandsLaw • • T: (02) 9805 5600