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We are committed to helping employees navigate the process of obtaining Stop Bullying Orders. Understanding the distress caused by workplace bullying, our legal team provides empathetic, expert advice and representation to ensure your right to a safe work environment is upheld.

Karena Nicholls

Karena Nicholls

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What is bullying in the workplace?

Bullying in the workplace, often referred to as workplace bullying, is a pattern of repeated aggressive or harmful behavior directed at an employee or a group of employees by one or more individuals in a workplace setting. This behavior can take various forms and may include:

  • A person or group of people behaving unreasonably towards another employee or group of employees.
  • Behaviour that occurs more than once.
  • Behaviour that creates a risk to the health and safety of others.

It is important to note that not all behaviour that causes anxiety or stress is classified as bullying. If someone makes a comment, but only does it once and it is not repeated, this does not constitute bullying.

Behaviours of bullying?

  • Acting in an aggressive or intimidating manner towards someone.
  • Using abusive or offensive language.
  • Mocking or humiliating someone.
  • Holding ‘initiation ceremonies’.

Bullying can also include:

  • Teasing or playing jokes.
  • Leaving employees out of work-related events.
  • Giving someone too much or too little work.
  • Giving someone work above or below their skill level.
  • Not giving someone information that they need to do their job.

What to do if you’re bullied at work

  • Seek support – talk to someone you trust about the bullying.
  • Talk to the person – you could tell the person that their behaviour is inappropriate and ask them to stop. However, you are under no obligation to speak to the person or anyone else before making an application to the Fair Work Commission.
  • Speak to your employer – In the form of a supervisor/manager, HR department, health and safety rep or union representative. Many workplaces have anti-bullying processes and policies in place. It may be worth considering making a formal complaint via the appropriate channels.
  • If you are an eligible person, you can make an application to the Fair Work Commission.

Eligible Person

To ask the Commission to stop workplace bullying, you must be:

  • An employee
  • Working in a ‘constitutionally covered business’
    • A Pty Ltd company
    • Foreign Corporation
    • Trading or financial corporations formed within the Commonwealth.
  • Still working in (or connected to) the workplace where the alleged bullying occurred.
  • Experiencing (or at risk of experiencing further) behaviour that creates a risk to your health and safety.

Not Eligible?

  • Sole trader or partnership
  • State government departments
  • Some (non-corporate) state public sector agencies
  • Some local governments
  • Corporations without significant trading or financial activities
  • Members of the Defence Force.

If you are an eligible person, you will need to fill in Form F72 – Application for an order to stop bullying at work. In this form, you will need to detail the following:

  • Your contact details.
  • Details of any representative you have.
  • Details of your employer.
  • The name of the person who is bullying you.
  • Description of how you were bullied.
  • What do you think needs to happen to stop the alleged bullying?

Next Steps

  • You will need to pay a fee when you apply. For the 2023-2024 financial year, the fee is $83.80.
  • Once the application is received by the Commission, a staff member will call you to discuss.
  • The Commission will also serve a copy of your application to:
    • Each person named in the application as an alleged bully.
    • Each employer named in the application.
    • Any lawyer or paid agent.
  • The next steps may include a voluntary conciliation meeting. If an agreement can be made at conciliation, the case will conclude.
  • Most cases go straight to a Commission Member for a resolution via a conference or formal hearing.
  • Following a hearing, the Commission Member will reach a decision regarding the outcome and issue a decision or Order.
  • The Commission aims to finalise cases within 16 weeks of receiving the application.
  • Parties have the opportunity to appeal if they believe an error has been made with the decision or Order. An appeal can, however, only be made with the permission of the Commission.

Potential Outcomes

Outcomes that can stem from a Stop Bullying Order include:

  • Changes in work arrangements including lines of reporting
  • Receiving an apology
  • Receiving a reference or statement of service
  • Commitments by the employer to:
    • Investigate a complaint or engage an external investigator.
    • Provide training for staff on bullying, workplace safety and other relevant matters.
    • Review and update its policies and procedures.
    • Improve transparency in reporting complaints about sexual harassment.
    • Conduct a safety risk assessment for the workplace.
  • The applicant withdrawing the complaint.

Note that compensation or any other payment of money cannot be ordered.

Book Your Stop Bullying Orders Consultation Now

What to Expect with Coutts Lawyers

Step 1: Initial Contact

Reach out to Coutts Lawyers via our website, phone, or in person. Briefly describe your matter.

Step 2: Consultation Appointment

Schedule and attend a meeting with a Coutts lawyer / Conveyancer to discuss the specifics of your matter and desired outcomes.

Step 3: Information & Legal Advice

Share all related documents and information. Your lawyer / Conveyancer will review everything, clarify aspects as needed, and then advise on the best action course.

Step 4: Action Plan Development

Based on the advice, an appropriate action plan will be formulated. This may involve communication, documentation processes, or further legal steps.

Step 5: Implementation

Execute the action plan, addressing a range of legal scenarios as necessary.

Step 6: Resolution & Closure

Navigate towards a resolution, with the path determined by the nature of the matter. Your Lawyer / Conveyancer will outline any final actions or considerations.

Introducing Karena

Your Compassionate Lawyer

Meet Karena, a Partner at Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers, and the head of our esteemed Injury Compensation and Employment Law teams. With over two decades of experience in the field of Insurance Law, Karena’s passion, dedication, and client-focused approach have established her as a leading authority in compensation and employment law.

Karena Nicholls - Employment Expert
Karena Nicholls - Employment Expert

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Stop Bullying Orders FAQ’s

Workplace bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions directed towards an employee or a group of employees that risk their health and safety. It can include behaviours that intimidate, offend, degrade, or humiliate a worker, often in front of others. Bullying behaviours might include verbal abuse, spreading rumours, isolation, or making impossible demands. It’s important to note that workplace bullying is distinct from legitimate feedback or reasonable management actions conducted in a fair way.

Generally, a single incident of inappropriate behaviour may not be considered bullying. Bullying typically involves a pattern of behaviour repeated over time. However, a single incident can still be serious and should not be ignored, especially if it’s particularly severe or has the potential to escalate into repeated bullying. In some cases, one-off incidents can also contribute to a workplace culture that tolerates bullying.

If you’re experiencing bullying in the workplace, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Document the Incidents: Keep a record of all incidents, including dates, times, what was said or done, and any witnesses. Documentation can provide evidence if you decide to make a formal complaint.
  2. Review Company Policy: Many organisations have policies on workplace behaviour and procedures for handling bullying. Familiarise yourself with these policies.
  3. Seek Support: Talk to someone you trust, like a colleague, a manager, or a human resources representative. You can also seek support from a counsellor or an external advisor.
  4. Formal Complaint: If informal attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful, consider making a formal complaint according to your organisation’s procedures.
  5. External Assistance: If the situation doesn’t improve or if your workplace doesn’t have adequate procedures to deal with bullying, you may seek advice from an external body like a union representative, legal advisor, or a government agency specialising in employment issues.

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