AHRI:ASSIST

Bullying 

Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety. This includes the mental or physical health of the person(s).

Repeated behaviour  refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can refer to a range of behaviours over time.

Unreasonable behaviour  means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the circumstances, would see as victimising, humiliating, undermining or threatening.

COMMON BULLYING BEHAVIOURS

Bullying can occur face-to-face, over the phone, via email, on social media, instant messaging or using mobile phone technologies including text messaging.

Bullying can involve many different forms of unreasonable behaviour, which can be obvious (direct) or subtle (indirect). Some examples of these include:

DIRECT BULLYING:

  • Abusing, insulting or offensive language
  • Spreading misinformation or malicious rumours
  • Behaviour or language that frightens, humiliates, belittles or degrades, including criticism that is delivered with yelling or screaming
  • Display of offensive material
  • Teasing or regularly making someone the brunt of pranks and practical jokes
  • Inappropriate comments about a person's appearance, lifestyle or their family
  • Interfering with a person's personal property or work equipment
  • Harmful or offensive initiation practises

INDIRECT BULLYING:

  • Unreasonably overloading a person with work or not providing enough work
  • Setting timelines that are difficult to achieve or constantly changing deadlines
  • Setting tasks that are unreasonably beyond or below a person's skill level
  • Deliberately excluding, isolating or marginalising a person from normal work activities
  • Withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
  • Deliberately denying access to information, consultation or resources
  • Deliberately changing work arrangements such as rosters and leave to inconvenience a particular worker or workers
  • Unfair treatment in relation to workplace entitlements such as leave or training

Some of these behaviours (such as a physical attack or threat of physical attack) also constitute occupational violence and may be criminal offences.

BULLYING CAN GO BOTH WAYS 'UP' AND 'DOWN' THE CHAIN OF COMMAND

It is important to remember that bullying does not only occur 'downwards', with superiors (managers, supervisors etc.) bullying their subordinates. Bullying can happen 'upwards' by employees (or groups of employees) towards managers, or laterally ('sideways') between co-workers.

For more information on bullying, please see our:

Information sheets

Bullying laws following Fair Work amendment

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Legal considerations

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Costs of Bullying

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What is not considered bullying

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Employee action on vilificaton and victimisation

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Preventing bullying harassment and discrimination

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Vilificatoin and victimisation in the workplace

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Who can be held liable?

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Guidelines

How to identify bullying in the workplace

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Preventing bullying

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Case Study

Bullying case study

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Policy

Sample bullying policy

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