From 01 January 2014, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) will have the authority to investigate and deal with individual bullying cases, something never before seen in Australia.
Until now, all other anti-bullying jurisdictions focused on ensuring companies had policy and procedures in place to help protect workers, but never to investigate individual bullying claims.
This is huge win for Australian workers, and as per the definition which covers the majority of workers in Australia, is a huge win for Owner Drivers and other independent contractors.
The official definition of a ‘worker’ is broadly defined. The FWC use the same meaning as in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).
The FWC’s new anti-bullying Act determines an application should be made if:
A worker is bullied at work if an individual or a group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably toward the worker, or a group of workers of which the workers is a member and, that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.
Once the worker has completed and lodged their application using the appropriate form (more information available here), the FWC anti-bullying team will seek to contact all relevant parties to gather information.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
- Each application will be treated on a case-by-case scenario.
- Once an application is made, the FWC has 14 days to start actioning
- Anti-bullying applications are not subject of mandatory conciliation conferences or mediation (unlike unfair dismissal applications)
- Employers may be required to disclose the findings of internal investigations into bullying complaints to the FWC.
- The FWC will not promote or recommend monetary settlements.
This new third-party anti-bullying jurisdiction is a great win and will help improve conditions for workers across Australia.
Click on the follow link for more information or to download a copy of the Anti-bullying jurisdiction – Summary of the Case Management Model.