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Workplace Bullying

The all-star comedy Horrible Bosses 2 may be a Hollywood movie, but in reality, living with a horrible boss can cause considerable anxiety and serious psychological workplace injuries.

Every Australian has the right to a safe workplace, and this includes a workplace that is free from bullying.

Bullying in the workplace can take many forms including cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, public humiliation, isolation, physical abuse and even sabotaging work.

All too often we see victims of bullying develop serious physical and mental health issues, sometimes resulting in a significant workplace injury.

Recent research revealed more than one-third of workers believed they had been bullied in the workplace.

While bosses can direct workers to perform work and take action about poor performance and misconduct, they must do so in a way that is reasonable. Bullying, particularly by bosses, often goes unreported because workers may worry about losing their job.

Employees can tackle the bullying by speaking to someone they trust, keeping factual written records of incidents and reporting it to health and safety representatives.

Workplaces should also have a policy in place that outlines the processes for dealing with bullying and harassment. Such policies help employers comply with work health and safety legislation as well as reducing the potential liability for damages.

Employers should take prompt action to investigate and resolve the complaint. This might include taking statements, interviewing witnesses and conducting mediation.

Workers can also speak to their union or apply to the Fair Work Commission which can make an order to stop a worker from being bullied. If they feel their health is at risk, they should also contact Comcare or the workplace safety agency in their state.

Visit www.fwc.gov.au for more.

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