Call for national laws to tackle workplace bullying
Maurice Blackburn is calling on the Federal Government to introduce for the first time national legislation to make workplace bullying illegal and give victims quicker access to the legal system.
“The Productivity Commission estimates bullying and harassment costs the Australian economy between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.”
Maurice Blackburn Employment and Industrial Law Principal Josh Bornstein said workplace bullying was endemic across all professions but was not explicitly addressed by any federal law.
“Workplace bullying involves degrading, belittling, humiliating and threatening behaviour; in some cases it spills over into violence,” Mr Bornstein said.
“It is devastating for victims and their families and has an immense economic impact. The Productivity Commission estimates bullying and harassment costs the Australian economy between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.
“It is astounding that Australia lacks national legislation to enable victims to take action to stop bullying in its tracks.
“Currently, victims of workplace bullying rely on occupational health and safety or personal injury laws.
“Invariably these cases proceed well after employees suffer irreparable harm to their health and career. The time for
legislation permitting employees to seek a remedy proactively before such damage is done is now.
“I have seen too many employees destroyed by sociopathic workplace bullies; their careers ruined along with their health.”
Mr Bornstein said the Federal Government must consider:
introducing new legislation, giving victims the ability to quickly access a court or tribunal to expose bullying at work
enabling victims to seek court orders or injunctions for proven cases of bullying
a national educational campaign to reveal the true costs of workplace bulling, and
- work with Australia’s mental health sector to work with employers and employees to take action to pre-empt the health, economic and other damage wrought by this problem.
Mr Bornstein said workplace bullying corrodes a person’s dignity, self-esteem, job satisfaction, motivation and ultimately mental and physical health.
“Workplace bullying is above all, a matter of how we treat each other as human beings. It is illegitimate. It is toxic. It should be explicitly addressed in our statutes,” he said.
“A national law that enables employees to seek urgent orders stopping the bullying conduct, and before the real damage is done, is well overdue. Once a light is shone on a bullying culture, it tends to wither and die.
“That’s why Maurice Blackburn is calling on the Federal Government to introduce new laws to better protect workers.