Bullying Order from FWC

Applicant v Respondent, PR548852 (21 March 2014)

The first substantive bullying order from FWC has included a restriction on the time an employee can start work, and demonstrates how the new area of regulation can be applied to a workplace.

Since these new provisions require privacy to be preserved, the details of the case are necessarily few and sketchy. What is known includes that the two employees cannot have any contact with each other alone (i.e. there must be a third person present), there can be no written contact (e-mail, text) between the two except in an emergency, no work matter can be raised by the employee with the applicant without first notifying a very senior officer of the company and the applicant is not to start work before a stipulated time.

The importance of this decision cannot be understated; the FWC has made a legally binding order that these restrictions apply. If for example the company had negotiated, with pay rises, for flexible start times in this workplace,  that benefit to the employer, in respect to the applicant employee, has been struck out by this order. It demonstrates the breadth and depth of what FWC could do and highlights the absolute necessity of employers to get on top of bullying claims before they get into FWC’s hands.