27 April 2014


The Fair Work Commission has released its anti-bullying report for the January-March 2014 quarter [PDF].

Last year the Commission forecast that it would receive around 3,500 bullying-related applications per year. Receipt of 151 applications in the quarter (all dealt with inside the required 14-day period, eight finalised with a decision) suggests that the figure for the current FY will be lower.

Most applications were from employees of large organisations alleging unreasonable behaviour by managers. Employees made 133 of the 151 applications; employees of a labour hire companies made three; contractor or subcontractors four; and apprentices/trainees and volunteers one each.

Of the eight finalised applications, the Tribunal issued orders once (on the basis that the employee faced a risk of continued bullying from a peer), in Applicant v Respondent, PR548852 (21 March 2014).

Those consent orders require the peer to have no contact with the co-worker alone, make no comment about the co-worker's clothes or appearance, refrain from sending any emails or texts to the co-worker except in emergency circumstances, "complete any exercise" at the employer's premises before 8:00 am (reinforced by an order that the co-worker not to arrive at work before 8:15 am); and raise no work-related issues without first notifying the employer's chief operating officer or his subordinate.

Six applications were dismissed under s 587 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). One was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.

Of the claims finalised without a decision, applicants withdrew 23 early during case management; with five withdrawing ahead of a conference or hearing. A further 16 were resolved during proceedings (four withdrawn after a conference or hearing and before a decision).

Some 109 workers alleged bullying by managers, with 27 alleging bullying by an individual worker, 20 by a group of workers and three by a subordinate.

67 of applications were by workers from organisations of 100-plus employees; 29 from those in organisations with 15 to 50 employees, eight from those with 51 to 100 employees, and 19 from organisations with less than 15.