The cost of workplace bullying in the Motor Trades Industry

Motor trades infographic

In the 2014–2015 financial year, 67 psychological claims were lodged with WorkCover Queensland from employees within the Motor Trades Industry (fuel retailing, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts retailing, including motorcycles). These claims represent one third (29.5%) of all psychological claims lodged for the Retail Trade Industry as a whole.

Psychological injuries are undoubtedly the most costly claims to manage which is largely a reflection of the longer claim durations and extensive periods of incapacity to work. The average monthly payment for a psychological claim within motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts retailing was $4,827 for the last financial year. The next most costly claims are those for back injuries at $2,856 per claim.

A large proportion of psychological claims are lodged as workplace bullying.

According the Safe Work Australia’s guide for preventing and responding to workplace bullying, workplace bullying is defined as ‘repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.’

Repeated behaviour refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.

Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable; this can include behaviour that is victimizing, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.

Whilst a single incident of unreasonable behaviour is not deemed as bullying or harassment, this does not mean that claims for a singular event are not one for consideration and/or acceptance. 

Analysis of WorkCover Queensland’s claims data indicates an increase in the bullying and harassment of younger, less experienced workers by longer term or more experienced staff. This includes incidents of continual name calling, mocking, practical jokes, unreasonable work requests and 'hazing' of apprentices.

These activities are of concern and whilst some may consider them as workplace banter, it is important for employers to understand that others may not see it that way. What some may consider funny and something they had to endure as apprentices themselves, others may find such activities inappropriate and uncomfortable, especially if they are being targeted. Some staff may even play along with the banter in fear of retaliation and to save face with their colleagues.

This type of internal behaviour has a financial impact for both the employer and the industry with increased premium rates as a result of increased claims costs.

In addition, the employer may incur further costs as a result of lost productivity due to workplace morale and absenteeism, and increased staff turnover costs.

It is important for employers to ensure guidelines are in place for appropriate workplace practices and that workers are aware of their avenues to seek help and assistance.

If you have any questions about workplace bullying, please speak with your relationship manager or call us on 1300 362 128.

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Last updated
22 June 2016