The Fair Work Commission has released an updated version of its "Anti-bullying Benchbook" to assist parties lodging or responding to bullying claims made to the Commission.
The information book was first published in January 2014 when the Fair Work Act anti-bullying provisions commenced. It is intended to provide guidance regarding the Fair Work Act's anti-bullying provisions and act as a "how to" manual for parties preparing materials to be submitted to the Commission in a bullying claim.
For example, the Benchbook provides an overview of the background to bullying legislation and contains a number of case examples to demonstrate where behaviour will amount to bullying which is in breach of the Fair Work Act provisions.
The updated Benchbook now includes reference to recent decisions of the Commission and guidance about the Commission’s process for dealing with bullying claims.
The Commission has not significantly added to the commentary regarding what will constitute "reasonable management action" to assist in determining when an employer's actions will fall within the reasonable management action exemption. However, the updated Benchbook does refer to the 2015 decision of Amie Mac v Bank of Queensland Limited and Others ( FWC 774) in now specifying that in order to be unreasonable, an employee must be able to demonstrate that a management action lacked "any evident and intelligible justification".
While the Benchbook cautions parties against relying on its contents as an alternative to obtaining legal advice, it is clear that the book intends to provide self-represented plaintiffs with assistance in understanding the Fair Work Act's anti-bullying laws and lodging their claims.
For employers, the Benchbook provides a useful summary of bullying laws and the Commission's decisions in bullying cases (albeit from the Commission's perspective), and the process and procedure that the Commissions follows once it receives a bullying complaint.
The updated Anti-Bullying Benchbook can be accessed here: http://benchbooks.fwc.gov.au/antibullying/