Bullying and harassment
You have the right to work in a safe work place free from bullying or harrassment. If you do experience this at work, here's what to do and who can help.
What is bullying and harassment?
Bullying and harassment are often thought of separately; however both involve a more powerful person or group oppressing a less powerful person or group, often on the grounds of ‘difference’.
These differences can be related to culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, ability or disability, religion, body size and physical appearance, age, marital status or economic status.
- Harassment is unwelcome conduct that humiliates, offends or intimidates people. Harassment is bullying conduct that is neither appropriate nor relevant to work. This includes words as well as acts, pictures and images, manifest attitudes and a hostile or threatening atmosphere. The effect is to make a person feel insulted, offended, intimidated and unable to work effectively or safely.
- Bullying is another form of workplace harassment that many employers and employees face. Examples of bullying behaviour include unfair and excessive criticism, publicly insulting victims, ignoring their point of view, constantly changing or setting unrealistic work targets and undervaluing their efforts at work, or culturally insensitivity.
- Your employer may be responsible for what other employees do if he/she hasn't taken reasonable actions to prevent or respond to the bullying or harassment.
- Reasonable actions can include acting on bullying or harassment issues, implementing policies and procedures and training programs for all staff.
- The most effective way to prevent bullying is for your employer to send a clear message that workplace bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
- Read this guide for preventing and responding to workplace bullying by SafeWork Australia.
What to do if you're bullied or harassed at work
- Seek help and advice from someone you trust.
- If you are able, tell the bully that you find their behaviour unreasonable.
- If the behaviour doesn’t stop, check to see if your employer has a policy to prevent and deal with bullying and follow the procedures to report it.
- Check if your Industrial Award or workplace agreement has procedures for bullying or grievance handling.
- See a doctor, if necessary.
Who can help?
- SafeWork NSW – phone 13 10 50
- Occupational health and safety representatives in your workplace
- Your supervisor or employer
- Your organisation’s personnel or human resources representatives – where available
- Unions - if you are a member of a union
- Training Services NSW – phone 13 28 11