The Victorian Parliament last week passed Brodie's Law, which amended the Crimes Act to make workplace and cyber bullying criminal offences. Anyone in Victoria convicted under the Crimes Act of workplace bullying now faces up to ten years in prison.
The law came about as a result of the suicide of Brodie Panlock, who killed herself in 2006 because of extreme bullying by three of her workmates.
Employers would be aware of the need to be vigilant about bullying in the workplace. This starts with a clear statement that bullying behaviour is not tolerated. Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or a group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety.
It is also incumbent on employers to keep an eye on behaviour between employees, and to step in if behaviour is unreasonable, even if the person who is the 'target' of the bullying has not complained. Policies and procedures should also clearly set out how an employee makes a complaint, and what will happen once a complaint has been made.
For more information, contact Emma Watt on (03) 8822 3712 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org.