What is workplace bullying?
Workplace bullying is when someone is repeatedly treated badly by someone they work with. It can be anything from physical threats to teasing or being left out. If someone else’s actions are threatening your health or safety at work, then it’s bullying.
Dealing with bullying in the workplace
If you feel like you’re being bullied, there are three easy things you can do to nip it in the bud:
1. Keep a private record
It can be hard to remember exactly when and why you felt bullied. But those deets are super-important if you want to report bullying. Keep a personal record to help you remember the specifics and to show that you’ve been treated badly more than once.
Make a note of:
- the date and time
- who is treating you badly
- exactly what they’re doing or saying
- where it happens
- who else was there – it’s helpful if you have a co-worker who can back you up
- how it makes you feel.
2. Understand what will happen if you report the bullying
It’s a big step to accuse a co-worker of bullying behaviour, so it’s totally understandable to feel nervous about telling someone what’s been happening. Try to remember that it’s part of your manager’s job to make sure everyone feels safe and happy at work.
- See if you can find your work’s official bullying policy. You might have even been given a copy of this when you first started. It’ll give you an idea of who to talk to, what processes you should follow, and what the consequences will be for the person who is bullying you.
- Tee up a meeting with your manager and use your notes as a reference. Clearly outline what's been going on and how it's affecting you. It’s likely that your manager will need to involve the human resources (HR) department at this point.
- Speak to HR. They'll make a note of what happened and look into what's going on. A lot of the time, they'll try to sort it out through mediation. But the person who's bullying you could be given a written warning or even be terminated.If your manager is the person who’s bullying you, then you’re in a bit of a tough situation. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it to them directly, you can take your concerns to someone more senior than them or straight to HR. If that’s not possible, it might be time to take the issue even further.
3. Bring in the big guns
You’ve tried everything, but the bullying still won’t let up? It’s probably time to report the abuse to someone outside of your work.
- Hit up your state inspector by submitting a Workplace Bullying Form to SafeWork Australia.
- Contact the Fair Work Commission, which can give you tonnes of info about their anti-bullying process and help you to submit an anti-bullying application.
- If you decide to lodge an anti-bullying application, then they’ll send an order to stop bullying to the person who is bullying you, as well as to your employer. Next, they’ll try to help you resolve the issue – usually through mediation, a hearing or a conference.
- If you’re a union member, you can ask your union to give you a hand. They can give you heaps of advice about dealing with bullies at work and might even be able to act on your behalf.
What can I do now?
- Create a Word document or grab a notebook and start a personal record of the bullying.
- Ask your boss about your workplace’s bullying policy.
- Visit SafeWork Australia to find out more about your rights at work.