Fair Work Commission Releases Updated Anti-bullying Benchbook

Wednesday 11 April 2018 @ 8.43 a.m. | Industrial Law | Legal Research

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has advised that has published an updated interactive online version of the Anti-bullying benchbook. According to the Media Release published by the FWC the benchbook contains plain English summaries of the key principles of workplace bullying case law and how these have been applied in FWC decisions. The FWC indicated that the bench book is designed to provide information to parties to assist in the preparation of material for matters before the FWC.

Arrangement of Benchbook

The benchbook is arranged to reflect the process a user of it would follow when applying to the FWC for an order to stop bullying in their workplace. It is pointed out though, that while issues may arise at any point during the process and are addressed as they come up, the benchbook may not deal with issues in the same order as the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act).

Coverage and Application of Anti-bullying Laws

To be eligible to make an application a person must be covered by the anti-bullying laws. Persons are covered if they:

  • are a worker (as defined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth))
  • are not a member of the Defence Force, and
  • experience the bullying behaviour whilst at work in a constitutionally-covered business

See further FW Act ss.789FC, 789FD(1) and 789FD(3).

Workplace bullying is said to occur when

". . . an individual or a group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker, or a group of workers of which the worker is a member, at work and that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety".

See further FW Act s.789FD(1)

Overview of the Benchbook Contents

  • Firstly, the questions of  what is workplace bullying and who is covered by workplace bullying laws? In this respect the  definitions of "worker" and  "constitutionally-covered business" are covered.
  • The question of when is a worker bullied at work is covered by addressing:
    • What does "at work" mean?
    • Looking at the risk of continued bullying, and
    • Considering what does "Reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner" mean?
  • The making of an application and responding to an application are dealt with as is the consideration of whether the worker has been dismissed, or is no longer in the employment/ or a contractual relationship?
  • The processes of the FWC are covered, considering in particular the procedural issues and matters relating to representation by lawyers and paid agents.
  • Matters relating to evidence and outcomes are dealt with, such as:
    • Contravening an order of the Commission
    • When can the Commission dismiss an application?

The New Version

According to the FWC the latest version of the Anti-bullying benchbook incorporates recent updates and is designed to be read online. It can be accessed on the FWC's website where a PDF version of the benchbook is also available for download.

The FWC has also advised that they will also be publishing more online versions of other FWC benchbooks in the future.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Related Articles: