Bullying and harassment in the workplace

15028_0118Bullying and harassment in the workplace is something we cannot tolerate. And there are plenty of reasons why every workplace needs to ensure that bullying and harassment is not tolerated. Indeed every health service in Victoria has some kind of policy about bullying and harassment offering ways of reporting it and processes for how such issues are dealt with.

There is little doubt that bullying and harassment is occurring in our workplaces. You only need to look at the recent reports in the media about the extent of bullying and harassment in healthcare.

However when we go to do something about bullying and harassment in the workplace, it becomes difficult to prove. So why is it so difficult to prove bullying and harassment?

It’s important to know what constitutes bullying and harassment. In general bullying and harassment is when:

  • a person or group of people repeatedly act unreasonably towards you or a group of workers
  • the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Unreasonable behaviour includes victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening. Whether behaviour is unreasonable can depend on whether a reasonable person might see the behaviour as unreasonable in the circumstances. And it is important to remember that there is a pattern to the behaviour over time. That’s why we always advise any member concerned about bullying and harassment to keep a diary of when the behaviour took place and what happened.

Examples of bullying include:

  • behaving aggressively
  • teasing or practical jokes
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
  • excluding someone from work-related events or
  • unreasonable work demands.

A manager can make decisions about poor performance, take disciplinary action, and direct and control the way work is carried out. But this needs to be done in a reasonable way otherwise it can be considered as bullying.

And if you’ve ever found yourself in a situation that involves threats to harm someone, acts of violence, assault, property damage and stalking these should be referred to the police because they are criminal matters. The response to these issues in your workplace should be appropriate to the seriousness of what has occurred.

Bullying and harassment in the workplace are very serious issues and not taken lightly by the Union. If you think you are being harassed or bullied at work, it is vital that you start documenting it.

Need support or advice – contact the Union on 9623 9623.

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