Workplace Bullying Related Claims Have Increased Since the Australian Government Interventions in 2013

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Workplace Bullying Related Claims Have Increased Since the Australian Government Interventions in 2013

This Snapshot provides a retrospective warning that workplace bullying-related worker’s compensation claims have increased since 2016, which has resulted in overall claims for physical and psychological work health and safety (WHS) injury to remain substantially constant since 2015.

All WHS Claims include All mental stress claims, which include workplace bullying claims. Workplace bullying claims do not include claims for management action such as recruitment, performance management and termination. However, all mental health claims consist of a majority of workplace bullying-related claims like discrimination, sexual harassment, work environment pressure and violence, as well as specific bullying figures.

These figures indicate the failure of law and policy changes introduced after the Commonwealth Parliament, House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment “Workplace bullying: we just want it to stop” enquiry report in 2012. The changes included the introduction of workplace bullying intervention orders into the Fair Work Act at the end of 2013 and the release of an example workplace bullying organisational policy by Safe Work Australia. The Safe Work Australia policy described the minimum requirement to avoid fair work legal liability rather than providing details of the duty of care required to eliminate workplace bullying under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The enquiry recommended these changes without knowing the positive results achieved under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 without any intervention at all. The example policy encourages the social norm of workplace bullying acceptance in certain circumstances, such as unrepeated incidents or management action, that can extend to all forms of bullying.

This data is historical, and we won’t know what is happening right now until new data is released in about three or four years. If this trend continues, further sharp increases in bullying-related mental stress claims may erode the past success of the harmonised Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for all physical and psychological claims.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA

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