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ACTU: Employers need to take responsibility for workplace bullying

TODAY the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) called for proposed codes of practice dealing with workplace bullying to be strengthened and combined with regulation to make employers responsible for providing a bullying free workplace.

ACTU president Ged Kearney workplace bullying damaged lives and it should be treated like other workplace hazards. “Employers are required by law to provide a safe workplace, and this should include acting to prevent bullying,” Ms Kearney said.

“A strong workplace culture is the best way to stop bullying, but this can only occur if employers’ responsibilities are clearly outlined in regulation.

“It is not good enough to treat bullying as isolated incidents or ‘personality clashes, employers must recognise that bullying is often a product of the culture they create in the workplace.

Ms Kearney said workplace bullying took many forms, including social media, emails, initiation rites and practical jokes, and employers needed to take responsibility for identifying risks and acting on bullying complaints.

“If workers feel they can make a complaint as soon as bullying behaviour starts, then we can reduce the damage caused by bullying. “Everyone is entitled to respect at work. The effects of bullying are serious – many people who are bullied report depression or other mental health issues and affect them beyond work.

“Bullying needs to be explicitly defined in workplace health and safety laws and the penalties of serious incidents of workplace bullying should match those for other major breaches of health and safety.”

Read the ACTU submission to Safe Work Australia: Preventing & Responding to Workplace Bullying Draft Code of Practice here.


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