The Commission is a tribunal, and operates like a court. Commission staff cannot provide legal advice, or give you advice on how best to deal with bullying at work or how to run your case.
Commission staff can give you information on:
The following video will assist you identify the broad range of options available to assist all parties who are dealing with workplace bullying, including an explanation of the role of the Fair Work Commission.
The Commission has launched a Workplace Advice Service (Service), to provide access to free legal assistance to eligible persons, including small business employers seeking employment law advice.
The Commission has launched this Service, as free legal advice can improve access to justice, reduce participants anxiety and confusion, and avoid unnecessary costs.
In Victoria and NSW we are partnering with a range of law firms, community legal centres and legal aid commissions to provide assistance.
In Queensland we are partnering with Legal Aid Queensland to provide vulnerable persons with access to free legal advice.
The following information may be useful if you're not covered by the national anti-bullying laws, or if you don't think that applying for an order from the Commission to stop bullying is the best option for you.
Workplace bullying can be a breach of health and safety laws, which are administered by regulators in each state and territory. Regulators may decide to respond to complaints of workplace bullying and can prosecute for breaches of health and safety laws. The regulators cannot award financial compensation.
If you think you are being bullied for a discriminatory reason (such as your gender, race, religion, etc.), this may be a breach of human rights or equal opportunity laws.
If you think you're being bullied because you've made a complaint or inquiry about your employment, or because you have a workplace right:
Members of the Defence Force are not covered by the national anti-bullying laws. There are other laws that govern these employees.
You can find a community legal centre in your area at the National Association of Community Legal Centres.
The law institute or law society in your state or territory may be able to refer you to a private solicitor.
Bullying at work is a serious issue that can affect people in a number of ways.
If there is a risk of violence or physical assault, or if there has already been violence or physical assault, you may wish to consider contacting the police.
If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it is important to speak to someone.
Some options are:
If you are having difficulty reading or viewing the information on this website, the Commission can arrange for the information to be made available in a more accessible format.
If English is not your first language, the Commission can arrange an interpreter.
To end proceedings or to suspend them to another time or place.
To request that a decision of a single member of the Commission be reviewed by a Full Bench to determine if the decision made is consistent with the Fair Work Act 2009. An appeal can only be made on the grounds that an error of law or fact has been made. A person must seek the permission of the Commission to lodge an appeal by lodging a Form F7—Notice of Appeal.
Bullying at work, as defined by the Fair Work Act 2009, occurs when:
Bullying does not include reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.
A formal procedure outlining the processes used, including disciplinary measures, to resolve bullying in the workplace. A policy would normally include definitions of bullying, a worker's responsibility in relation to bullying and the step by step process that should be adopted when bullying is reported.
A set of rules and responsibilities that govern an organisation. A code of conduct generally sets out appropriate and inappropriate behaviour of employees within an organisation.
Abbreviation for Fair Work Commission.
Refers to the Commonwealth government or an Australian territory.
A private proceeding conducted by a Fair Work Commission Member.
A constitutionally covered business is:
It does not include sole traders, partnerships, some state government employees, corporations whose main activity is not trading or financial.
A judgment or conclusion reached after considering the facts and law. A decision in relation to a matter before the Commission can include the names of the parties and will generally outline the basis for the application, comment on the evidence provided and include the judgment of the Commission in relation to the matter. A decision can be made by a single member or a Full Bench of the Commission. It is legally enforceable.
Instructions given to the parties by the Commission that set out a timetable in accordance with which they must file in the Commission and serve on each other an outline of submissions, witness statements and any supporting documents.
Information which tends to prove or disprove the existence of particular belief, fact or proposition. Certain evidence may or may not be accepted by the Commission, however the Commission is not bound the normal rules of evidence. Evidence is usually contained within or attached to a witness statement or provided verbally by a witness in a hearing.
The principal Commonwealth law governing Australia's workplace relations system. Go to the Fair Work Act 2009.
Australia's independent, national workplace relations tribunal, established under the Fair Work Act 2009, from July 2009 to December 2012. Fair Work Australia assumed the functions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, and the Australian Fair Pay Commission and the agreement-making function of the Workplace Authority. Fair Work Australia was renamed the Fair Work Commission on 1 January 2013.
A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission is convened by the Fair Work Commission President and comprises at least three Fair Work Commission Members, one of whom must be a Deputy President. Full Benches are convened to hear appeals, matters of significant national interest and various other matters specifically provided for in the Fair Work Act 2009.
Unwanted and offensive conduct or behaviour by a person or persons directed towards another person based on an attribute such as a person’s age, gender, race, religion or a disability. Harassment can be physical or psychological.
A public proceeding conducted by a Fair Work Commission Member. A hearing is generally more formal than a conference, and may be held if the matter can't be resolved at mediation, conciliation or conference.
The scope of the Commission’s power and what the Commission can and cannot do. The power of the Commission to deal with matters is contained in legislation. The Commission can only deal with matters for which it has been given power by the Commonwealth Parliament.
An objection to an application on the basis that the Fair Work Commission does not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter. A jurisdictional objection is not simply that the respondent thinks the applicant's case has no merit.
A case or legal proceeding before the Commission.
An informal, confidential and voluntary process. It is one of the processes used by the Commission to facilitate the resolution of a grievance or a dispute between parties by helping them reach an agreement.
A person appointed by the Governor-General to decide matters at the Commission. A Member may be the President, a Vice President, a Deputy President or a Commissioner.
An entity that is not a constitutional corporation. The following are not constitutional corporations:
An order is a ruling made by a Fair Work Commission Member after he or she hears your case. Once an order has been made, anyone bound by that order must follow it.
The end result of an application made to the Commission.
A written document that clearly sets out the key elements of a case. All facts, information and evidence that you wish to bring to the attention of the Commission should be included in your outline of submissions.
An organisation in which two or more persons carry on a business together and it is not a constitutional corporation as defined.
A person or organisation involved in a matter before the Commission. A party is generally known as either an applicant or a respondent.
A person or business that has entered into a contract for services with an independent contractor.
A business owned and operated by private individuals for profit, instead of by a government or its agencies.
When persons are treated equally or fairly before the law (also known as due process). For example, procedural fairness occurs when both parties to a dispute have an opportunity to be heard or to defend themselves.
A proprietary limited company. A constitutionally covered business.
In relation to an anti-bullying application, reasonable management action is the action or behaviour of management that is considered to be carried out in a reasonable manner. Reasonable management action does not constitute workplace bullying.
Reasonable management action may include:
In each of these examples, if they are not carried out in a reasonable manner, then they could still be considered bullying.
A requirement to send a copy of a document (and all supporting documents) to another party or their representative, usually within a specified period. A person’s obligation to serve documents can be met in a number of ways. The acceptable ways in which a document can be served are listed in Parts 7 and 8 of the Fair Work Commissions Rules 2013.
An organisation in which one person is responsible for the business.
Abbreviation for work health and safety.
A body established by a state or territory government which regulates WHS laws in a particular state or territory. To find contact details for the regulator in your state or territory, go to the Enquiries page.
A person who gives evidence in relation to something they saw, heard or experienced. A witness is required to take oath or affirmation before giving evidence at a formal hearing. The witness will be examined by the party that called them and may be cross examined by the opposing party to test their evidence.
In relation to an anti-bullying application, the definition of a worker is drawn from the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. A worker can include:
Only people who are considered to be workers may apply for an order to stop bullying at work.
See bullying at work.