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Bullying Fact Sheets 4 - 7


Bullying Fact Sheet 4


What is Workplace Bullying?



Bullying can occur in any workplace at any time.Under certain conditions most

people are capable of bullying.Anyone can become a target for bullies.

Bullying is not to be tolerated or excused under any circumstance.This fact sheet

will help you identify bullying behaviour.


Bullying is "behaviour that is repeated systematic and directed towards an employee

or group of employees that a reasonable person,having regard to the circumstances,

would expect to victimise,humiliate,undermine or threaten and which creates a risk

to health and safety ".      (Interagency Round Table on Workplace Bullying; South Australia 2005).


Listed below are examples of bullying behaviour which you should watch out for.

Personal behaviours that are bullying or are part of a pattern of bullying behaviour:


*  Verbally abusing someone - including using
   insulting or offensive language

*  Maliciously spreading gossip rumours or  innuendo

*  Intimidating someone physically or by using     inappropriate comments or criticism

*  Performing harmful or offensive initiation practices

*  Teasing or regularly sending someone up

*  Using insinuating glances,gestures or dirty looks

*  Ignoring,excluding or isolating someone from  workplace activities

*  Making someone look stupid

*  Humiliating someone using sarcasm or insults

*  Ridiculing,insulting someone

*  Displaying material that is degrading or offensive

*  Tampering with someone 's personal effects or work tools

*  Threatening violence

*  Making insulting comments about a persons private life or beliefs


Work related behaviours that are bullying or are a pattern of bullying behaviour:


*  Giving someone the majority of   unpleasant tasks

*  Deliberately withholding information or ignoring
workplace consultative mechanisms

*  Unreasonably and knowingly overloading someone with work

*  Concealing information,failing to pass on messages

*  Setting someone up to fail, eg impossible deadlines

*  Undervaluing a persons contribution, taking credit for the work of others

*  Constantly engaging in unjustified criticism of someone 's work

*  Setting someone tasks below their level of skill and job competence

*  Unreasonably or inappropriately monitoring work

*  Unfairly using administrative penalties - eg..withholding leave or overtime, unreasonably changing rosters

*  Constantly changing goal posts or performance expectations

*  Making threats or hints about job security

*  Unreasonably denying job opportunities

*  Setting up forced or unjustified disciplinary hearings


Adapted from "Rayner:cited in Beswick,Gore and Palferman 2006


Fact Sheet 5


Identifying, Assessing and Controlling Bullying


Workplace bullying should be treated like any other health and safety hazard by

applying the risk management approach to identify, assess and control exposure

to the risk of workplace bullying.


Identifying the Hazard:


Even if your workplace has a "No Bullying" program in place, steps still need to be

taken by your employer to identify whether there is a potential for bullying to occur in

the workplace. This should be undertaken in consultation with your OHS

Representatives. Potential hazards can be identified by examining:


*  Workplace behaviours

*  Levels of absenteeism, sick leave,

   staff turnover

*  Workplace audits examining systems of

   work and work organisation

*  Reports of workplace grievances

*  Employee opinion surveys including suggestion


*  Injury reports

*  Issues raised by the OHS Committee

   or reports from OHS Representatives

*  Reports of damage to personal effects

   or work tools

*  Work organisation, workplace layout,

   work design

*  Reports about deteriorating workplace

* Work demands, work pressures, and

   the allocation of work

*  Exit interviews with employees


Assessing the Risk Factors:


The next step involves determining the circumstances which may lead to workplace

bullying and then determining the likelihood of these "risk factors" existing in your

workplace. Such risk factors are listed on Fact Sheet No. 6.


Controlling the Risk Factors:


If risk factors exist in your workplace action must be taken to ensure that they don't

result in people being bullied. Such action may include:


*  Developing a No Bullying Policy

*  Developing a conflict management


*  Establishing a workplace culture that

   expects appropriate behaviour and

   does not tolerate bullying

*  Providing job descriptions that

   specify clear roles and responsibilities

*  Developing a reporting, complaint

   handling and investigation procedure

*  Reducing excessive work hours

*  Developing an awareness campaign

   involving the training and education of

   all managers, supervisors and workers

*  Keeping statistical records relation to

   productivity, absenteeism, grievances,

   work related injuries

*  Nominating a "contact person" in the

   workplace and ensuring they receive

   appropriate training

*  Reviewing staffing levels and the

   availability of resources




Fact Sheet No.6 -

Risk Factors that can Encourage or Support Bullying


There are a number of workplace factors that can contribute to the risk of workplace


You need to be on the look out for these factors because, while in themselves they

may not mean that bullying is occurring, they are indicators of the potential for bullying

to occur in the future.


Workplace Structure:


*  Inadequate or unclear human resource

   policies and procedures

*  Inadequate and inappropriate


*  Poor communication channels

*  Changes in work procedures, rosters,

   management, supervisory staff

*  Lack of information fl ow

*  Poor skills and practices in people


*  Lack of consultation with workers

*  Organisational restructuring and


*  Absence of on-going staff development

*  Change in ownership of company

*  Poorly defined job roles

*  Excessively high workloads

*  Introduction of new technology

*  Staff shortages

*  Inappropriate or inadequate induction


*  Physical work environment -

   working alone, isolated, overcrowded,

   staff facilities


Workplace Characteristics:


*  High rates of absenteeism

*  Early retirements

*  High levels of stress

*  Workplace culture, overtly or covertly

   supporting entrenched inappropriate


*  High numbers of workers

   compensation claims

*  Unreasonable competition for promotional


*  High incidence of industrial tribunal

   and legal action

*  High level of job insecurity

*  High number of grievance reports

*  Poor workplace morale and erosion of

   loyalty and commitment

*  Deterioration of relationships between

   work colleagues, management or


*  Segmented workforce - e.g. minority

   groups based on gender, ethnic




What should a worker do if they are bullied?


An AMIEU delegate may be the first person that a worker approaches about

a bullying incident. It is important that they know how to properly advise the worker

about the options available to deal with the matter.

There are different ways to deal with the issue,depending on how serious it is,

whether it involves co-workers or supervisors/managers and what action the person

affected wants to take.


Direct Approach:


Assessing and advising whether a direct approach will help resolve an incident of

bullying is a positive . rst step.A direct approach may not always be appropriate

particularly when the allegations are serious or the bullying is between persons of

unequal status - e..g.a worker and a supervisor.If a direct approach is appropriate

you should advise the person affected to:


*  Keep a detailed record of what happens,date,time,persons present and

   what was said or done.Make sure the records are accurate.It is also

   recommended that these records are kept at home.

Directly approach the person responsible for the bullying to make it quite clear

   that the behaviour is unwanted and unaccepted and will not be tolerated,or

*  Approach the bully with another person (AMIEU Rep,or OHS Rep)to discuss

   the matter,or

Ask their supervisor to speak to the alleged bully on their behalf,or

*  Ask their supervisor or manager to watch out for the bullying behaviour and

   to intervene.



Informal Resolution Process:

An informal resolution process aims to ensure that the bullying incident is resolved

as quickly as possible.This is most effective when an approach involving an impar-

tial third party who may be a manager or union of . cial is used to conciliate the mat-

ter.Advise your members that:


*  Both parties must agree to participate in the discussion

*  The discussion will focus on resolving the problem and agreeing about

   what action will be taken

*  No investigation or disciplinary action will result.A "no blame " conciliatory

   approach will be used to sort things out

*  The outcome should make it possible for both parties to continue to work



Formal Investigation Process


If the allegation is serious or where an informal approach has not resulted in the

bullying ceasing,then you should advise the person affected:


*  Both parties must agree to participate in the discussion


What to expect from a formal investigation is covered in Fact Sheet No.8



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