New anti-bullying laws have come into effect from the start of this year – 1st January 2014.

A worker who experiences bullying can now lodge an application with the Fair Work Commission to seek an order for the bullying to stop. The Fair Work Commission has to respond within two weeks of an application being lodged.

The Fair Work Commission’s anti-bullying information page, with information on the new anti-bullying laws is located here:

There are many details, but to summarise the key points:

  • The laws cover most of the Australian workforce including employees, contractors and volunteers alike.
  • The aim of any action ordered by the commission is to prevent further bullying. These laws are not designed to punish bullies or their employers through fines or award compensation to victims.
  • After the application is lodged, both the employer and the other parties who are alleges to have been bullying the applicant are required to respond

Here are the remedies available under the anti-bullying laws:

  • requiring the individual or group of individuals to stop the specified behaviour
  • regular monitoring of behaviours by an employer or principal
  • compliance with an employer’s or principal’s bullying policy
  • the provision of information, additional support and training to workers
  • review of the employer’s or principal’s bullying policy.
  • These laws are yet to be tested and it will take time to see how effective they are. Naturally, business leaders have expressed concern about the financial impact of frequent or frivolous anti-bullying complaints. We is likely that the laws will be tweaked over the next 12 months in response to how things pan out.

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