The new anti bullying laws which came into effect on 1 Jan 2014, have not led to the anticipated flood of bullying complaints. Instead of the 67 formal complaints a week expected by the Fair Work Commission, there have been an average of about 7 a week since January and only 1 order to stop bullying in the workplace has been granted.
New FW Anti Bullying laws have no led to rise in complaints
By Anna Patty – one of our favourite journos
New anti-bullying laws have not led to the anticipated flood of complaints. Instead of the 67 formal complaints a week expected by the Fair Work Commission, there have been an average of about seven a week since January.
Despite 200 calls a week to a phone helpline, only one order to stop bullying in the workplace has been granted.
Note: In March 2014, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) made its first substantive anti-bullying orders in Sydney and ordered an unnamed workplace bully to refrain from commenting on his victim’s clothes or appearance. The FWC also imposed a condition on the bullied victim.
A Sydney employment lawyer, Amber Chandler, said the number of complaints was well short of the number anticipated. The low numbers were partly a result of bullied workers taking their complaints to WorkCover instead, she said. You cab read more about this case on our Bullying page.
”The figures are by no means reflective of workplace bullying, which is a much bigger problem,” she said. ”People aren’t sure of this jurisdiction yet. The only thing that can be sought is a stop-bullying order, but only one has been issued.”
The NSW workers compensation scheme receives about 1000 claims related to workplace bullying each year, costing WorkCover more than $12 million.
Unions NSW assistant secretary Emma Maiden said workplace bullying was a serious problem that had not shown up in the Fair Work Commission’s statistics.
”The problem is that victims of workplace bullying have lacked a practical solution for so long that a culture of simply copping it or leaving is firmly ingrained,” she said.
”If we want to see happier and more productive workplaces then we need greater public awareness of Fair Work’s new bullying resolution capacity. We also need to investigate potential barriers that could be preventing bullying victims accessing the help now available.”
ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick said employer groups had predicted a flood of complaints as a result of the new legislation. This had not eventuated because ”reporting bullying is a difficult and courageous step for workers’‘, he said.
”We need to spread awareness so people know their rights, workers understand the new laws and know where to go when they want bullying to cease,” he said.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz said the former government rushed the legislation into Parliament to make a political statement.
”[Bill] Shorten’s sloppy approach meant the department and the commission didn’t have the opportunity to properly consider Labor’s proposal and could only provide a guesstimate as to how many applications might be expected,” he said.
Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said Labor introduced the laws to combat workplace bullying because it was a ”serious concern”.