Australia’s safety policy body, Safe Work Australia (“SWA”), has released a long-awaited revision to its draft model “Code of Practice for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying” (“Draft Code”) for public comment. The Draft Code has been revised following an earlier period of public consultation and follows the House of Representatives’ investigation into workplace bullying, resulting in the release of a lengthy report titled “Workplace Bullying – ‘We just want it to stop’”.

The Draft Code supports the model Work Health and Safety Act which forms the basis for harmonised workplace safety laws across Australia. The Draft Code contains guidance about identifying, preventing and responding to workplace bullying. When the Draft Code is approved and in a final form, it will be admissible in court proceedings under the workplace safety laws, and courts may have regard to the code as evidence about the hazard of workplace bullying.

In a new development, SWA has prepared a new “Workers Guide to Managing Workplace Bullying” that accompanies the Draft Code, and as the name suggests is designed to assist workers to identify and respond to workplace bullying.

Key takeaways for employers

  • This is likely to be the last opportunity to comment on the Draft Code before it is finalised, so if there are concerns with the current Draft Code, these should be raised in the form of a written submission to SWA before Monday 15 July 2013 at 5:00 p.m. AEST. We can assist with preparing or reviewing submissions for employers or industry associations.
  • Employers will need to review their workplace policies to ensure that there are appropriate policies and procedures regarding workplace bullying that are consistent with the finalised Code of Practice.