Some workers take advantage of workplace bullying laws, experts say

A new research on workplace bullying revealed that bosses are hesitant to discipline workers due to fear of being accused a bully.

The Herald Sun reported that Comcare told the federal parliamentary inquiry the number of “mental harm” claims lodged by federal bureaucrats have increased to 30 percent  in three years, with payouts soaring to $ 46 million in a year.

“Anecdotal evidence shows many managers are afraid to engage in performance management action due to fear of being labelled a bully,” says Comcare.

Experts believe that some workers are taking advantage of workplace bullying laws by making unsubstantiated claims.

Workplace law expert, Joydeep Hor told News Limited that organisations and managers are becoming “gun shy” because of fear of being accused of bullying or harassment.

“They have apprehension there will be allegations of bullying or harassment,” said Mr Hor.

“You know, ‘If something happens to me in the workplace that I don’t like I will put a label on it of it amounting to bullying,’” he said.

“As with any unfortunate labels there’s certainly a lot of that politicking that goes around.”

The new research also highlighted that one in three workers has been sworn or yelled at on the job, while 6 percent have been assaulted or threatened. Almost one in four workers has felt humiliated in front of other people.

One in five has experienced “discomfort” due to sexual jokes, one in 10 has felt unfairly treated due to their gender and one in 20 has experienced unwanted sexual advance.

The Public Service Association of South Australia wants to tone down the term bullying to “inappropriate behaviour.”

“Bullying… is a very emotive word and almost like being referred to as something akin to a paedophile,” says PSA assistant general secretary, Nev Kitchin during the inquiry.

Mr Hor believed the over-statement of workplace bullying impacts businesses’ success and safety of jobs.

“Without over-dramatising, you have anarchy, because people are allowed to get away with all sorts of inadequate behaviours, and sub-standard behaviour becomes the norm.”

“That’s hardly conducive to high productivity and business performance, which ultimately leads to less job security for the employees.”


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