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Bullies fall into two groups: those that intend to hurt and humiliate their targets and those that perceive their behaviour to be reasonable but their target perceives it as bullying.

Bullying at work:

Bullying at work is ‘Repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety’.
Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can include a range of behaviours over time. Unreasonable behaviour includes behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

** A single incident of unreasonable behaviour is not considered to be workplace bullying however it may have the potential to escalate and should not be ignored.

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Bullying behaviour may involve any of the following types of behaviour:
  • Aggressive or intimidating conduct
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Unreasonable criticism
  • Belittling or humiliating comments
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Teasing, practical jokes or 'initiation ceremonies'
  • Exclusion from work-related events
  • Deliberate interruptions
  • Unreasonable work expectations, including too much or too little work, or work below or beyond a worker's skill level
  • Refusing to delegate or withholding information which an employee needs to complete their work
  • Displaying offensive material or performing offensive acts
  • Pressure to behave in an inappropriate manner.
What is not considered to be workplace bullying?

REASONABLE MANAGEMENT ACTION TAKEN IN A REASONABLE WAY

It is reasonable for managers and supervisors to allocate work and to give fair and reasonable feedback on a worker’s performance. These actions are not considered to be workplace bullying if they are carried out lawfully and in a reasonable manner, taking the particular circumstances into account.

Examples of reasonable management action can include but are not limited to:

  • setting reasonable performance goals, standards and deadlines;
  • rostering and allocating working hours where the requirements are reasonable;
  • transferring a worker for operational reasons;
  • declining a workers’ request for promotion where a reasonable process is followed; 
  • informing a worker of their unsatisfactory work performance;
  • informing a worker of their unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour in an objective and confidential way;
  • implementing organisational change or restructure;
  • taking appropriate disciplinary action including suspension or termination of employment.
How is bullying different to discrimination?

Under federal and state legislation, unlawful discrimination occurs when someone, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin, gender, pregnancy or marital status; age; disability; religion; sexual preference; trade union activity; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation.

Workplace discrimination can occur in:

  • recruiting and selecting staff;
  • terms, conditions and benefits offered as part of employment;
  • who receives training and what sort of training is offered;
  • who is considered and selected for transfer, promotion, retrenchment or dismissal.
Discrimination or Sexual Harassment

Discrimination and sexual harassment in employment is unlawful under anti-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, workplace relations and human rights laws.

  • Discrimination generally occurs when someone is treated less favourably than others because they have a particular characteristic or belong to a particular group of people. Sexual harassment is associated with unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
  • It is possible for a person to be bullied, sexually harassed and discriminated against at the same time.
Workplace Conflict
  • Differences of opinion and disagreements are generally not considered to be workplace bullying.
  • People can have differences and disagreements in the workplace without engaging in repeated, unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to health and safety. However, in some cases, conflict that is not managed may escalate to the point where it meets the definition of workplace bullying.
  • If workplace conflict is affecting you, you should raise your concerns with your manager, supervisor, human resources officer or grievance officer.

 

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