12:57 pm, Thursday 8 December, 2011
A proposed code of conduct is being made by Safe Work Australia as a response to the increasing number of workplace bullying cases in the country.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, withholding information and training, not assigning enough work or giving tasks beyond a worker’s qualifications will all be included in the proposed code of conduct. Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying is still in its draft stage and is open for public comment until 16 December 2011.
However, for some bullying experts, the document still does not go far enough in specifying the myriad types of bullying behaviours and, can also put the employer on the spot for unfair accusations of inactions. Dan Riley, a senior lecturer at the University of New England’s School of Business, Economics and Public Policy said that drafting the document was a “helpful step” but he found some flaws in it including the failure to identify overt and covert bullying behaviours. Author and psychologist Evelyn Field said that the document’s definition of bullying as “repeated behaviour” does not include the possibility of an employee being traumatised after a single incident.
The final draft of this document will be forwarded to the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Council and could give guidance to future workplace laws in NSW where there is still no specific anti-bullying legislation. A maximum of 10-year sentence following proven serious bullying violations was introduced in Victoria early this year. Queensland and South Australia are in the process of adopting a legislation which is similar to Victoria’s.