Understand the impact of workplace bullying and address it is is critical in the daily operation of any business
What is Workplace Bullying and Harassment?
Workplace bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions or behaviours by one or more persons towards another, creating a hostile or intimidating work environment. These behaviours can be verbal, physical, or psychological in nature and can include actions such as shouting, belittling, isolating, or spreading rumours about an individual. On the other hand, workplace harassment involves unwelcome conduct that is based on a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other protected characteristic. This behaviour can be verbal or physical, including unwanted sexual advances, offensive jokes or comments, or physical assaults.
The Impact of Workplace Bullying and Harassment
Both workplace bullying and harassment can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of employees. Some of the common effects include:
Mental Health Issues: Bullying and harassment can cause significant emotional distress and can lead to mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Physical Health Issues: Employees who are bullied or harassed may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and gastrointestinal problems.
Decreased Productivity: Employees who are subjected to workplace bullying and harassment may become disengaged and less productive, which can negatively impact the overall performance of the organisation.
High Turnover: Employees who experience workplace bullying and harassment are more likely to leave their jobs, which can result in high turnover rates and increased recruitment costs for the organisation.
How to address workplace bullying and harassment
Employers have a duty of care to their employees to ensure they are not subjected to workplace bullying and harassment. Here are some steps that organisations can take to address and prevent these issues:
Establish a Zero-Tolerance Policy
Employers should develop and implement a clear policy outlining workplace bullying and harassment, the consequences for those who engage in such behaviour, and the reporting procedures for employees who experience such behaviour.
Provide Training and Education
Employers should provide regular training and education to employees on what constitutes workplace bullying and harassment, how to recognise it, and what to do if they experience or witness such behaviour.
Create a Supportive Culture
Organisations should foster a culture of respect and inclusion, where all employees are treated with dignity and encouraged to speak up if they experience workplace bullying and harassment.
Employers should encourage employees to report any incidents of workplace bullying and harassment and ensure that there are appropriate channels for reporting such incidents, such as a confidential helpline or an impartial mediator.
Develop Policies and Procedures to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment.
Employers are required by safe work legislation to ensure that they develop policies and procedures to respond to complaints of workplace bullying and harassment. A failure to do so could lead to an employer being prosecuted under the NSW Work Health and Safety legislation and lead to claims for workers’ compensation by injured employees.
Injury from Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and harassment in the workplace can cause significant psychological injury. An employer should implement policies and procedures to prevent and address bullying and harassment once it has been reported. A failure to do so can be a breach of the employer’s duty of care.
Employees who sustain a psychological injury in the workplace can make a claim for weekly payments and medical expenses under the NSW Workers Compensation Act.
Workplace bullying and harassment are serious issues that can have significant consequences for employees and organisations alike. Employers are responsible for creating a safe and supportive work environment where all employees are treated with respect and dignity. By establishing clear policies, providing regular training and education, and fostering a culture of respect and inclusion, organisations can address and prevent workplace bullying and harassment.
If you are the victim of bullying or harassment in the workplace, contact Garling and Co lawyers. Our lawyers are accredited specialists in personal injury law and available to assist you with your claim. Contact us today by telephone at (02) 8329 9500, visit our website www.garlingandco.com.au or complete a free case assessment by clicking here.
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