The following is a brief overview of the anti-bullying processes at the Fair Work Commission that will be applied in most cases.
Where possible, workers should try to address issues of bullying at work within the workplace. There may be processes already in place in the workplace to deal with issues of bullying, such as a bullying policy or a grievance procedure.
Workers are encouraged to raise the issues with their:
Workers can also speak to their union for information and advice on how to raise and deal with issues in the workplace.
State and territory work health and safety (WHS) regulators may be able to provide information on how to raise issues of bullying at work. Contact details for state and territory WHS regulators can be found at Safework Australia.
Applications should be lodged using Form F72 – Application for an order to stop workplace bullying.
The application must be accompanied by the appropriate fee. You may be able to apply for a waiver of that application fee in certain circumstances. Details about the appropriate fee, and how to apply for a waiver, can be found on the Forms & fees page.
Completed forms can be lodged:
The following video was created to assist those intending to make an application for an order to stop bullying. It explores how to complete the relevant form and how the form helps potential applicants consider their eligibility.
Once a worker's application for an order to stop workplace bullying has been lodged with the Commission, we will send a copy of the application to:
The Commission will also send out general information about what will happen next, and a response form to be completed (for more details, see Responding to an application, below).
The Commission will then decide how to deal with the matter (generally either by mediation, a conference or a hearing) and will then send all of the parties a written notice with the date and time for them to appear before the Commission (this is called a Notice of Listing).
This video explains what happens once an application for an order to stop bullying is made, from the Commission's initial contact with the applicant from the case management team, through service of the application on all parties, the receipt of responses and how the Commission may deal with the matter.
Employers and principals are encouraged to respond quickly and appropriately to the issues being raised. They have a duty to reduce or eliminate risks to workers' health and safety under WHS laws.
An employer or principal is:
Employer associations, chambers of commerce and peak industry bodies may be able to provide information for employers/principals on how to resolve issues of bullying at work.
The Department of Business (or equivalent) in most states and territories often has information to assist small businesses manage their staff, resolve disputes and develop human resources policies (including policies that deal with bullying). Contact details for the relevant department in your state or territory can be found on the Commission’s Enquiries page under Small business assistance.
The Commission will send a copy of Form F73 – Response from an employer/principal to an application for an order to stop bullying, to the employer or business that employed or engaged the worker. A copy of the worker's application form will also be sent, so that the employer or business can respond to their specific claims.
The response form must be completed and returned to the Commission within 7 days. A copy must also be sent to those who are indicated in correspondence from the Commission. This may include:
The Commission will send a copy of Form F74 – Response from an employer/principal to an application for an order to stop bullying, to the person or people who the worker has named in their application. A copy of the worker's application form will also be sent, so the person who the worker alleges is bullying them can respond to their specific claims.
The response form must be completed and returned to the Commission within 7 days. A copy must also be sent to anyone who has a proper interest in the matter. This includes:
If you are responding to a worker's application for a workplace bullying order you can dispute the application on a number of different grounds.
You should record any objections you have to the application on your response form.
If you are objecting to an application, you will still need to complete all sections of the response form. The Commission will need all relevant information before it can determine whether to uphold your objection.
The following video is designed to assist you understand how to respond to an application for an order to stop bullying. It sets out timeframes, explores the relevant forms and discusses some of the objections that may be raised.
Once all the necessary information has been received, the Commission will then decide how best to deal with the matter.
If mediation is considered appropriate, the parties will be invited to attend mediation to help the parties to resolve the issues themselves. Mediation is an informal, confidential, voluntary process. The Commission will not be promoting monetary settlements of these applications.
If the mediation resolves the matter a written agreement may be drawn up to reflect what has been agreed between the parties, and the matter will not be determined by the Commission.
If the mediation does not resolve the matter the applicant worker may ask that the matter proceed to a conference or hearing.
Where the above applies, the Commission may then consider making an order. Alternatively, if there is no basis upon which to consider an order, the Commission may dismiss the application.
The Commission has an obligation to publish the reasons for its decisions in anti-bullying matters. Where appropriate, the Commission may choose to issue a decision without naming the parties to an application.
The Commission may consider that a conference is the best way to initially deal with the application. A conference is more informal than a hearing and is conducted in private.
The Commission Member may make a decision about the application at a conference, or may require further information before determining whether an order to stop workplace bullying should be made. This could include making arrangements for a hearing to be conducted.
The Commission may consider that a hearing is the best way to deal with the application. A hearing is a formal proceeding.
Normally, formal evidence is received, and the Member will decide the application on the facts of the case.
If you can't attend on the date of the mediation, conference or hearing, or if there is any other reason why you think the matter should be delayed, you can apply for an adjournment.
An application for an adjournment must be made in writing, and you must provide full reasons why the adjournment should be granted. Adjournments will only be granted where there are substantial grounds.
Any request for an adjournment should be made as soon as you become aware that the date is unsuitable.
If a party does not attend a hearing, orders may be made in their absence.
The following video looks at what parties can expect when an application for an order to stop bullying is dealt with by the Commission. The video explains the types of proceedings the Commission may use and a range of possible outcomes including a comprehensive review of orders to stop bullying.
An order is a ruling made by a Commission Member after they have heard and determined a matter. Once an order has been made, anyone bound by that order must comply with it. Courts can impose substantial penalties on parties who fail to comply with orders.
In bullying matters, a Commission Member can make any order the Member considers appropriate to prevent the worker being bullied further.
The focus of any orders the Commission may make must be to prevent further bullying. Actions that the Commission might consider ordering could include:
However each case will be considered on its merits, and parties should consider the specific circumstances of the workplace when seeking orders or responding to proposals for orders.
The Commission cannot issue fines or penalties and cannot award financial compensation.
Before making an order, the Commission must take into account: