Aside from a new year, the first day of January 2014 was the day that Australia’s anti-bullying regime was introduced at the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The program provided employees, who became victims of workplace bullying, to report a claim against their employer’s abusive behavior. This was the first time that Australia passed a legislation to cover bullying at work.
Prior to the implementation of the anti-workplace bullying regime, the FWC was expecting to receive around 3,500 bullying claims every year. However, reports issued by the FWC indicated that only 874 cases of employees being bullied at work was received by the Commission since its inception until March 2015.
The number is very low. What’s alarming is that 72 percent of these cases were finalized with an FWC decision and all but 1 bullying application was dismissed. That means that only 1 among the 874 claims filed to the FWC was granted or deemed successful.
The low numbers of workplace bullying claims filed with the FWC is attributed to the lack of a compensation penalty. With the current anti-bullying program, the FWC may only impose orders to deal with workplace bullying and prevent it from happening to the claimant again. This is only applicable to bullying applications that are considered successful. In such cases, it also allows the FWC to order the company to introduce or enhance workplace policies on bullying.
Another reason to the low numbers may be the hesitation of bullied employees to speak up about the abuse they experienced at work.
To read more about Australia’s anti-bullying program, click here.