In January 2014, new anti-bullying laws came into effect under the Fair Work Act, bringing with them Australia's first legislated test for workplace bullying.

In the first of our Melbourne Workplace Relations & Safety Breakfast Briefing series for 2015, we reflected on the year that was and how these new laws have been working in practice, including:

  • What constitutes "reasonable management action"
  • Key Fair Work Commission decisions in the past 12 months
  • How bullying claims should be investigated
  • How claims are playing out in practice
  • Practical tips for employers on responding to these claims.

In our experience, "reasonable management action" is a key area for employers, as many of the bullying claims we see relate to circumstances where a manager is trying to manage an employee's behaviour or performance.

There have now been several cases in which the Commission has considered what constitutes “reasonable management action” and, employers will be happy to know that, by and large, the Commission is taking a very practical approach to applying this test.

We also reviewed recent developments in case law generally, such as the significant increase in damages for sexual harassment and the definition of what is the workplace in terms of when an employee is considered to be "at work".