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What is workplace bullying?

Bullying happens when you are at work and an individual, or group of people, repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards you, and that behaviour creates a risk to your health and safety.

The key elements to remember are that the behaviour needs to be:

  • unreasonable
  • done repeatedly
  • and must impact your health and safety

Bullying can take the form of verbal, physical, psychological, or social abuse by an individual or group of people in the workplace.

For example, 

  • threats
  • humiliation
  • shouting
  • sarcasm
  • intimidation and coercion
  • singling out or ostracism
  • innuendo
  • rumour-mongering
  • disrespect and mocking
  • discrimination
  • exclusion from work events
  • unreasonable work expectations, including too little or too much work, or work below or beyond a worker’s skill level

Bullying does not include reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.

The health and safety risk

Bullying can involve physical violence or otherwise subjecting you to a physical safety risk while you are at work.

However, bullying can also cause psychological and stress-related risks to health and safety.

If you are a worker who is suffering stress due to bullying, it might help to have a diagnosis from a GP or psychologist to show the health and safety risk that could arise from continued bullying.

If you are experiencing physical threats or violence, you should contact the police.

If you are experiencing psychological distress, including anxiety or depression, contact your GP or psychologist – or you can call one of these services for support. 

Lifeline  13 11 14

1800RESPECT  1800 737 732

QLife  1800 184 527

Beyond Blue  1300 223 636

MensLine Australia  1300 789 978

Kids Helpline  1800 551 800

Who is protected from workplace bullying?

All employees, in addition to students on work experience, contractors and subcontractors and volunteers, are protected from bullying under the law.

Order to Stop Bullying

If you have experienced workplace bullying, we can help.

We can represent you in the Fair Work Commission and apply for an Order to Stop Bullying.

Please be aware, the Commission only has powers to make anti-bullying orders – it does not have the power to order any monetary compensation.

An order to stop bullying is designed to get you back working in a bullying-free environment as quickly as possible, in addition to removing future bullying risk.

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LAST UPDATED: February 2022

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