As discussed in our previous Legal Insight on 18 February 2013, the Commonwealth Government has followed through on its promise to move quickly in amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) with the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2013 (Bill) being introduced in to Parliament on 21 March 2013. The Bill contains a broad range of amendments aimed at making employment more flexible and family friendly, altering current right of entry provisions and, most notably, giving the Fair Work Commission (FWC) jurisdiction to deal with claims of bullying in the workplace.
The Bill seeks to add new provisions to the FW Act enabling a worker who is bullied at work to apply to the FWC for an order to stop the bullying. Under the Bill, a worker is "bullied at work" when there is repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers, of which the worker is a member, that creates a risk to health and safety. These anti-bullying amendments are part of the Commonwealth Government’s response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment report Workplace bullying “We just want it to stop” and will no doubt represent a test for the FWC in dealing with the potential influx of claims.
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