Bullying and harassment
All employees have a right to work in a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. As an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that these rights are met. Employer responsibilities are set out in a range of state, territory and federal laws which help protect people from unlawful behaviour.
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that humiliates, offends or intimidates people. It's not only harmful to the victim, but also to the success of your business by lowering productivity and increasing staff turnover.
Under Australian anti-discrimination law, an employer may be legally responsible for discrimination and harassment in the workplace. To minimise the risk of legal action as a result of this, employers can actively implement anti-discrimination policies and ensure staff are aware of the consequences.
As well as discrimination, bullying is a form of workplace harassment that employers must address. Bullying behaviour includes:
- unfair and excessive criticism
- publicly insulting victims
- constantly changing or setting unrealistic work targets
- undervaluing employees' efforts at work.
As an employer, you should be aware of the legal risks associated with harassment and bullying and the steps that can be taken to minimise your potential liability.
Australian, state and territory governments provide employers with information and resources to understand and meet their obligations under the legislation.
What to do...
- Order the Australian Human Rights Commission's 'Good practice, good business' factsheets.
- Go to the Australian Human Rights Commission's website to find out more on workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying and a workplace discrimination and harassment policy template.
- Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for information on employees protected rights at work.
- Read about Equal opportunity and diversity in the workplace.