Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the workplace is a healthy and safe place for their workers. Failure to address workplace bullying and harassment can lead to serious outcomes. There are actions you can take now to create a positive culture and ways for workers to report issues so you can address them.
You create a positive culture and ways for workers to report issues so you can address them.
Why this is important
Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the workplace is a healthy and safe place for their workers.
Failure to address these issues can lead to serious outcomes, including suicide, mental injuries and claims, lost productivity, absenteeism and staff turnover, legal costs, reputational damage and ongoing or escalating negative behaviours from the perpetrator or others in the workplace.
What actions can I take now?
Before an injury occurs
- Undertake a risk assessment.
Research indicates that bullying and harassment are outcomes of organisational and societal factors. Some of the workplace risk factors for bullying include:
- how leaders respond to incidents of bullying and manage conflict and their commitment to manage bullying
- ineffective policies and procedures
- high job demands and/or low role clarity
- casual or gig workers, young workers, workers with disability or those from culturally and linguistically diverse groups are more vulnerable to being bullied.
- Make sure your managers and supervisors have the skills they need to identify, assess and manage risks to mental health and safety in their teams.
If an injury occurs:
- Support your worker (see ‘Your toolkit’).
- Respond to the workplace bullying before planning an injured worker’s return to work. Unaddressed bullying and harassment, as well as a fear of returning to unfavourable conditions, can delay a return to work or successful outcome.
- Talk to your insurer about the return to work goal and plan. Dismissal protections are in place for workers, but your insurer can work with you and your worker on the best plan for them, which may mean returning to an alternative role.
- For support reach out to:
- Workers’ Psychological Support Service – A free, confidential and independent call-back support service for Queensland workers affected by a work-related mental injury.
- Workers’ Compensation Information Advisory Service for Workers
- Mental Health Commission
- Lifeline Australia – Call 13 11 14.
- Mental health access line – A confidential mental health telephone triage service that provides the first point of contact to public mental health services to Queenslanders. Available at all times, linking callers to the nearest Queensland Public Mental Health service. Call 1300 642 255.
- Suicide Call Back Service – Call 1300 659 467.
- Beyond Blue – Call 1300 22 46 36.
- 13 YARN – For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Call 13 92 76.
- Heads Up – Information and resources on developing a healthy workplace.
- Read Safe Work Australia’s guides for employers and workers on preventing, responding to and dealing with workplace bullying.
- Legal case studies show the costs of bullying:
- Talk to your insurer about mediation as part of early psychological support services, to see if it is appropriate for your circumstances.
- Read more on bullying and the OHS Body of Knowledge chapter on bullying, aggression and violence.
- Measure workplace risk factors using a validated psychosocial risk assessment tool. The People at Work and APHIRM tools are both free options available to you.