Workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is any workplace behaviour that's physically, mentally or socially threatening. Some types are also crimes. It's everyone's responsibility to stop workplace bullying, including your employer, and if necessary, the policeIf you are being bullied, there are actions you can take.

This can help if:

  • You're struggling at work, and feel threatened by other workers
  • You want to know what workplace bullying might involve
  • You or someone you know is being bullied at work
  • You want to know what you can do about workplace bullying

What is workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is any physical or mental intimidation by a person or group of people in your workplace. It can happen in any kind of workplace and the person or group don't need to be managers or your boss – it can come from co-workers too. It happens to bosses, work experience students, interns, employees, casuals and temps. 

Some types of workplace bullying include:

  • Hurtful comments making fun of you or your work
  • Sexual harassment
  • Excluding you from workplace activities
  • Playing mind games or 'ganging up'
  • Giving you pointless tasks that don't help you do your job
  • Making impossible demands; setting you up to fail
  • Using your roster to deliberately make things difficult for you
  • Withholding important info
  • Physical violence, from pushing and tripping to outright attacks
  • Threatening you with workplace equipment like knives or drills
  • Initiation or 'hazing' rituals where you have to do something unacceptable or humiliating

What bullying is not: Even though some things may seem unfair, they might not be bullying. Your boss can sack, transfer, demote, retrench or discipline you, as long as they have a good reason.

For more info, check out this animation:

Who is responsible for stopping bullying

Everyone. That's the short answer. All people, whether at work or not, should try to make sure they're not threatening and intimidating others. In workplaces, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace, which means one that's free of bullying and intimidation. If you're seeing someone in the workplace being bullied, you've also got a responsibility to try to stop it.

Bullying and the law

Workplace harassment, intimidation and bullying can also be illegal. If the person being bullied is under 16, it could be child abuse. If you're being bullied for reasons like age, gender, disability, religion or sexual preference, the bullying could be discriminatory, which is illegal. Violence, or threats of violence, are always illegal.

I'm being bullied – what can I do?

If you're being bullied at work, there are steps you can take to stop it. They include:

  • Checking your work's policy on bullying and harassment
  • Writing down what happens so you've got records of the bullying
  • Talking to people you trust – whether it’s a friend, counsellor, or other support person
  • Telling a manager or supervisor
  • Taking it further: if you can't resolve the issue in your workplace, you can talk to the Fair Work Commission and get more info on their anti-bullying process, speak to a union rep, or if the bullying is violent or threatening, go to the police

If you want to hear from others, watch this 3-minute video about bullying. 

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 04 November, 2016
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35 Comments

  • SDS    (203 days ago)

    Hi, Not sure this thread is still alive. Fortunately, I ain't a victim here but a colleague of mine is being constantly reminded of being a Kiwi and every now and then jokes are being made on his identity. The people involved in this, hold powerful position in a small organisation and boss of the business thinks this is all funny and a so called Aussie way of doing work. The this poor guy just laughs at every comment made at him and has started taking it in a way that it never happened. I lost patience a few time and tried to stop this with no real luck. Need some suggestions...

  • Retail worker    (391 days ago)

    Hi I'm back again, this time to raise something that didn't happen to me but I found questionable. I overheard my manager telling off another staff in these words: "I have the right to tell you off and make you cry". I don't think the last few words are professional to say AT ALL. Will the manager be responsible to pay the therapy bills for the staff who was pushed to the brink of tears/breakdown? What does everyone think?

  • clarkey    (553 days ago)

    it would be fantastic if you could create a link or pulldown bar to get to a scholar version of this site that has the facts and info useful for schools. Don't get me wrong, this info is fantastic and you should be proud of yourself I just found it hard to navigate and find the 'right' info for my project. :) Great Website!Clarkey!

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