Update on New Anti Bullying Laws

Posted by Malcolm Campbell on 13 May 2014

Although there was initially a great fear of a flood of claims being made come 1 January 2014, the following extract from the FWC's 23 April 2014 media release on the first Anti Bullying quarterly report shows that (at least in the first three (3) months of 2014) this has not been the case:

The report shows that from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2014 the Commission received 151 anti-bullying applications. All applications had processes to deal with the matters undertaken within the required 14-day time period, with the majority on the date they were received.

A significant proportion of matters were finalised without requiring the Commission to determine whether or not to make an order to stop bullying at work including: 

  • 23 matters withdrawn early in the process 
  • 16 resolved during proceedings 
  • 5 applications withdrawn prior to listed proceedings 
  • 4 applications withdrawn after proceedings but before a decision. 

A number of applications were also dismissed on jurisdictional or other preliminary grounds. 
There are a number of matters still on hand, the majority of which are currently in the process of being dealt with by a Commission Member.

Most of these have already been subject to preliminary conferences designed to narrow the issues in dispute, establish how the parties will conduct themselves during the process and/or to make arrangements for an expeditious hearing of the matters.

Only a small number of matters had been allocated to a staff member for mediation. 
The report shows that the majority of applicant workers are employees and there are a range of business sizes and industries amongst the workplaces concerned.

Whilst these figures only relate to the first three (3) month of the new laws this should be compared to the statistics for things like Unfair Dismissal claims which average about 500 claims being lodged each month.

There will surely be an increase in the number of claims being lodged each month as the knowledge of the new laws spread but to date the fears of the flood gates opening have not yet been realised.