You have to laugh……….
WorkCovervictimsdiary blog had an “Exclusive” and we didn’t even know it!
You may recall we posted the article on the blog back in June 2013 –“40% of workers will have no access to new anti-bullying laws contained in Fair Work Act” in which we brought to our readers attention that, after reading the new anti-bullying legislation, we discovered that if you are a state or local government employee, a private sector worker employed by sole trader, partnership or one of the many workers in the charity and community sector – and you are the subject of workplace bullying you are excluded from applying to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying.
Access to the new anti-bullying measures are strictly limited to commonwealth public sector workers and a majority of private sector workers.
Furthermore, Victorian public sector workers would be left in “no man’s land” with no recourse to the federal anti-bullying protections but no prospect of similar provision perhaps being implemented within a state industrial system as Victoria no longer has one as all industrial powers were referred to the Commonwealth.
At the time we thought it was strange that there was no mention of this fact anywhere. Not in the media, not even on the various union web sites that we checked nor did any of the public sector unions, including ones such as the Nurses Federation etc whose members this exclusion detrimentally effects, nor or even the ACTU, make any mention of this broad exclusion nor did any of them raise it in their submissions to the Federal Government when the proposed draft anti-bullying legislation was circulated for public comment.
Well, on the front page of today’s The Australian there is an article emblazoned “Exclusive” “Bullying regime’s coverage ‘unclear'”.
It brings to the attention of the Australian public that everyone including all the unions and lawyers are now suddenly in a flap and a spin because yesterday they only just discovered, 2 days after the new anti-bullying provisions came into effect, that oh my god….state government employees and many others are not covered by the new anti-bullying legislation. What? Really? You’ve all only just discovered this?!!
It turns out that a lowly blog of rag tag injured workers can read the anti-bullying legislation and discover 7 months ago what the likes of all the unions, their lawyers and the constitutional experts and the media couldn’t.
Maybe they should have all read the WorkCovervictimsdiary blog back in June 2013!
[By Co-Author Madame Zena]
Bullying regime’s coverage ‘unclear’
From: The Australian January 03, 2014
CONFUSION has erupted over the reach of anti-bullying legislation two days after the reforms came into effect, with unions urging an expansion of the laws as it became apparent the measures do not cover defence employees, state public servants and some small businesses.
The country’s peak union body has called on state and federal industrial relations ministers to integrate workplace bullying laws through the Council of Australian Governments, extending the grasp of new powers invested in the Fair Work Commission to cover all Australians. Since Wednesday, workers who are being bullied are able to lodge applications with the commission seeking formal orders that the bullying be stopped.
Claims are flowing in, but questions remain about which employees fit into the FWC model and who has been excluded.
ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick said the council would urge industrial relations ministers to undertake a mapping exercise across jurisdictions to establish which employees were covered by bullying laws at either a federal, state or territory level, and commit further to close any coverage gaps immediately.
Mr Borowick said it would be a straightforward exercise for the COAG Select Council on Workplace Relations, which has already harmonised work health and safety laws, to take the same steps with anti-bullying measures.
“You’ve got all the players in the room, and as industrial relations and work health and safety increasingly take national focus, bullying could as well,” Mr Borowick said.
“We call on (Employment Minister) senator (Eric) Abetz to co-ordinate a process through the Select Council.
“They’re well placed to examine this issue, to commission some research and then to agree on a remedy to ensure that all workers are covered by specific bullying provisions.”
The new laws, introduced under the previous government, only cover workers in constitutionally covered businesses, such as proprietary limited companies, and employees of the commonwealth and commonwealth authorities but not Defence employees.
They do not cover businesses that are sole traders or partnerships, or the state governments, which have failed to refer bullying-specific IR powers to the commonwealth.
The ACTU estimates the laws will cover 80 per cent of the national workforce and has urged states to refer the powers, a move opposed by business groups.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for the Abbott government to implement a review of the legislation within six months to ensure it is not penalising business and rewarding frivolous bullying claims.
An interactive eligibility quiz on the FWC website advises workers to check with their payroll staff, accountant or lawyer if unsure whether their employer falls into the commission’s jurisdiction.
Community and Public Sector Union federal secretary Karen Batt said all states except Victoria had a workplace tribunal that could hear bullying complaints, but Victorian public servants were stuck in a black spot because there was no appropriate state body and bullying was not included in the state’s previous referral of IR powers. She said the union had unsuccessfully tried to get the former federal government to pressure Victoria into a further referral when the legislation was being drafted.
“As a group, one of the largest employers in the country are state governments — 1.5 million workers around the country are exempt from these laws,” Ms Batt said. “We do believe there would be many people who would want to take the Victorian government to Fair Work because it’s an independent tribunal and it would be able to hold the government to account for its behaviour.”
In a sign of confusion about the issue, DLA Piper IR specialist Murray Procter said he had believed Victorian government employees would be covered.
Mr Borowick said the FWC’s ability to provide a fast-track jurisdiction, with employers only given a week to respond to bullying claims, should be accessible to all workers.
An FWC spokeswoman said a small number of claims had been lodged since application forms became available on Tuesday.
Revised May 2014
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