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Workplace bullying is a health and safety issue, and under Australia’s workplace health and safety laws, employers must take reasonable steps to ensure their workplace is free from bullying.
Why have an anti-bullying policy in place?
An anti-bullying policy formalises an employer's commitment to providing a safe workplace and clearly states that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. It explains what bullying is and highlights ways that people can and can’t behave towards others at work.
An anti-bullying policy should also outline the formal processes in place to resolve workplace bullying and help ensure a consistent approach to any incidents.
What should an anti-bullying policy include?
According to the Fair Work Commission, “an anti-bullying policy would normally include definitions of bullying, a worker's responsibility in relation to bullying and the step-by-step process that should be adopted when bullying is reported.”
WorkSafe Victoria proposes that the following should be included in ananti-bullying policy:
- Commitment to providing employees with a safe working environment
- The standard of behaviour that all employees are expected to comply with
- Where relevant, a statement that the policy includes communication through SMS, email and social media
- What can happen if the policy is not complied with
- How and where to report issues
- Where to get more information
Who can write an anti-bullying policy?
State-based agencies such as WorkSafe Victoria recommend that anti-bullying policies are written in consultation with both health and safety representatives and employees. The policy should be signed by management to emphasise its significance. Once developed, any workplace anti-bullying policy should be communicated and promoted to all employees, including new staff. It should also be regularly reviewed.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing your workplace anti-bullying policy. WorkSafe Victoria provides sample policies that are a useful reference for developing your own workplace anti-bullying policy. Safe Work Australia’s Guide to Dealing with Workplace Bullying also includes a sample policy at the end of the document.
Need more information?
Many government agencies provide detailed information about workplace anti-bullying policies, including how to write them and what they should include: