In a bold move to curb the skyrocketing number of workplace bullying cases, Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, brought forth a landmark bill to the parliament on July 11. The bill proposes measures to decisively eliminate workplace bullying, heralding a new era for both employers and employees alike.
An alarming surge of 44% in bullying claims was witnessed between March 2021 and March 2022, according to data released by the employment law firm Fox and Partners. The figures jumped from 581 to 835 cases, marking a record high for 2022. This sharp uptick underscores the urgency of legislation targeted explicitly at dealing with bullying at work.
The proposed bill aims to empower employers by mandating the establishment of robust systems for reporting, investigating, and disciplining instances of bullying. By fortifying the legal framework against bullying, the bill hopes to provide employees with a safer, more respectful working environment.
A crucial component of this legislative push is the introduction of the Respect at Work Code, which would lay down clear guidelines about what constitutes bullying behaviour. The Human Rights Commission (HRC) would be tasked with ensuring adherence to this Code.
Richard Fox, a senior consultant at an employment law firm, highlighted the much-debated legal parameters of workplace bullying. He hailed this initiative as a significant leap forward, saying, “This bill would be a big step forward for both employers and employees.” Fox also noted the potential benefits of clarifying and simplifying the law in this sector. This simplification could make the law more accessible for individuals, eliminating the need to navigate a maze of legislation, some of which may not be directly pertinent or suitable.
Echoing these sentiments, MP Maskell stated that specific legislation relating to workplace bullying is already functioning effectively in other jurisdictions. As such, this bill appears to offer a more direct path for employees suffering from bullying at work. The bill is due for its second reading on November 24 2023.
The Workers Union Says…
“In this turbulent climate, The Workers Union stands with all those affected by workplace bullying and ardently supports this bill’s journey towards becoming law. With this bill, we hope to see a significant reduction in workplace bullying cases and a healthier, safer, and more respectful workplace environment for all”.