How to Reduce Workplace Bullying and Stay on the Right Side of the Law

Posted on: 2 July 2017


Bullying can be detrimental to the health and happiness of your workers, but under new Safe Work Australia guidelines, it can also be illegal. As an employer, you're likely wondering what you can do to deter bullying and keep your commercial enterprise on the right side of the law.

Understand Bullying

Bullying can be comprised of a myriad of activities. It may include abusive language, humiliation, unjustified complaints or even practical jokes. If you want to prevent bullying, it's important to understand the nuances. It's also critical to understand that bullying may be subtle.

Cover Bullying in Employee Training

You should also share that information with employees through your training materials. Let employees know what bullying is and how to report it when it happens. Also, be sure to cover how bullying can affect the entire firm through reduced productivity and an unhappy work environment.

Move Away From Shame-Based Punishments

Many companies use deterrents to prevent their employees from doing certain things. If you do, make sure that you are not using any public shaming. That could be constituted as bullying on a legal level—remember, humiliation can constitute bullying.

For instance, let's say you run a sales team. Publicly embarrassing sales reps who don't meet their sales goals could be constituted as humiliation. In this case, you may want their punishment to just be less commission or private meetings with management about improving performance.  

Put Reporting Guidelines in Place

Employees who are being bullied may not feel comfortable coming forward if they are not assured of their privacy and safety. If a bullying situation is allowed to progress unchecked, it may become steadily worse, and something serious may happen. The employee may decide at the last minute to get legal counsel, putting your business in jeopardy, or the employee may even be physically hurt, also leading to liability issues.

Talk With a Commercial Lawyer

A commercial lawyer can help you understand the legal aspects of bullying. He or she can help ensure that your training materials, reporting guidelines and other anti-bullying measures are in line with the law. He or she may also be able to help you draft documents related to these processes as needed.

Finally, if a bullying case is ever brought against your business, a commercial lawyer can help you fight that accusation. To learn more about the legal side of running a business, contact a commercial lawyer today.