New FWC powers to stop bullying06-Jan-2014
The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has new powers from January 1, 2014 to receive claims of workplace bullying, and make orders intended to make bullying stop.
These changes to the Fair Work Act came in response to the House of Representatives 2012 inquiry into workplace bullying, which recommended that workers have some kind of individual recourse in bullying matters, in addition to what was available through health and safety regulators. The changes are highly controversial, with business groups calling for a 6 month review to uncover the number of vexatious claims.
The behaviours which are part of a claim must meet the three criteria used to identify bullying (repeated, unreasonable, create a risk to health and safety). There are limits to who can make a claim to the FWC, with defence personnel, and most state government employees not being covered. In addition, claimants must be currently employed at the workplace for which they are making the claim.
More information on eligibility, how to make an application, and the process that will be followed is available at the FWC website. Early cases will provide insight into the kinds of claim that can be made under this jurisdiction, and the orders developed in response. Trend data on claims should prove most interesting.