The Australian Government has announced it will amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to give the national workplace tribunal, the Fair Work Commission (FWC), the power to deal with workplace bullying complaints. Under the changes proposed, a national definition of workplace bullying will be adopted, but it will recognise that bullying does not include reasonable management practices, including performance management conducted reasonably.
The changes will allow employees to make a complaint about bullying in the workplace to the FWC, and the FWC will be required to deal with the application as a priority. The FWC will also be given power to make orders to deal with the complaint or to refer it to the relevant state workplace health and safety regulator.
These amendments follow the recommendations made by a Parliamentary Committee in its recent report, Workplace Bullying: We just want it to stop. The same report also called upon the national workplace safety policy body, Safe Work Australia (SWA), to urgently progress the draft Model Code of Practice, Managing the Risk of Workplace Bullying. It is expected that SWA will release the Model Code in the first half of this year for further public comment so that it can be finalised and released for adoption across Australia.