Workplace bullying response - service standards

This explains what we can and cannot do, and what you can expect from us when you raise a bullying issue with us.

What we can do

We can only act on situations that fall within the scope of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act).

This includes verifying an employer or business (or other PCBU) is:

  • consulting with workers about work health and safety
  • providing and maintaining a work environment that is without risks to health and safety
  • providing and maintaining safe systems of work
  • monitoring the health and safety of workers and the conditions at the workplace, to ensure that work-related illnesses and injuries are prevented
  • providing appropriate information, instruction, training or supervision to workers and others at the workplace, to allow work to be carried out safely.

What we cannot do

There are some things we cannot do. These include:

  • mediate between the workplace parties involved
  • provide legal advice
  • provide counselling
  • order the employer or business (or other PCBU) to discipline the alleged bully or terminate their employment
  • take sides
  • deal with industrial matters or discrimination
  • issue an order to stop bullying behaviour-the Fair Work Commission have powers to issue these orders if required.

What we expect from you

We can provide you with a better service if you:

  • check that what is occurring to you is workplace bullying
  • try to resolve it in your workplace by:
    1. talking to someone – eg your supervisor, manager, health and safety representative (HSR) or union representative – about what you are experiencing and what you can do about it
    2. checking if your workplace has an anti-bullying policy and reporting procedure and following it
    3. telling the other person that you object to their behaviour and asking that it stop (if you feel safe and comfortable doing this)
    4. reporting the behaviour as early as possible – eg to your supervisor, manager, HSR or union representative – and/or using workplace reporting procedures
  • check that we are the right agency to approach for your issue if it's still not resolved
  • read 'what you can expect from us', below
  • complete and submit the workplace bullying online form, if you want to raise the issue with us.

Web browsers must be updated to the latest version to ensure online forms are submitted without error. You can also request a hard copy form by calling 13 10 50.

What you can expect from us

  • we will acknowledge in writing that we have received your request.
  • we may contact you for more information.
  • we will decide on the most appropriate action by assessing the information you provide and the circumstances of your request, and by considering our compliance policy and prosecution guidelines
  • we will contact the workplace to which the issue relates (or the place from which the relevant person generally conducts their business or undertaking) by one of the following methods:
    • letter
    • phone call
    • visit by an inspector
  • we will take care to not disclose any information that may identify you if you have made a request for your identity to remain confidential. However, it is possible that the workplace parties will make assumptions about who has raised the issue with us. In some circumstances, remaining anonymous may limit the scope of our action.
  • we will be transparent with the workplace about why contact is being made and what their obligations are under the WHS Act. If a visit is undertaken, the inspector will make enquiries to:
    • assess the extent of compliance by the workplace duty holders with their work health and safety obligations in relation to the alleged bullying issues
    • support compliance with legislation
  • we will not, in most circumstances, take steps to verify that bullying has occurred. Our primary purpose is to assess the extent of compliance with WHS laws and ensure compliance, not to support a person's version of events over another or examine a potential breach of a code of conduct (although this may occur whilst we are making our enquiries).
  • within 10 working days from receipt of your request, we will respond to your request which may include contacting you and/or the workplace.
  • we will keep you informed of progress, and when finalised, will provide you with the outcome, the reason for the decision and any actions taken. This will usually be via a phone call.
  • we will ensure that our decisions and actions are reasonable, fair and appropriate to the circumstances, based on consideration of all relevant legislation, policies and procedures.
  • we take unreasonable behaviour seriously. The customer Service Standard outlines our standards of service. We do not view abuse, threats, intimidation or harassment of our staff by customers as part of their job. If your behaviour is unacceptable, we may set limits or conditions on your contact with us and provide you with a warning. If your unacceptable behaviour continues, we may cease all direct contact with you.
  • we may not be in a position to continue to respond to issues that have already been actioned by us. We may stop responding to you if we have already investigated and responded to your issues. If you have been provided with an opportunity to express your concerns, have been treated fairly, given reasons for decisions made and a reasonable explanation as to why your request can go no further, the matter will be closed. Any further correspondence from you about matters already dealt with will be noted, and no further action will be taken.