January 14 2019 by Elise Wilson
What you need to know about workplace bullying. No one should turn up to their workplace and be subjected to abuse, intimidation or threats. But unfortunately, for many employees, workplace bullying is a harsh reality. Workplace Bullying can be difficult to identify, or prove that it is occurring. You might not like what’s happening to you at work – but is it bullying? In New Zealand, WorkSafe (the work place health and safety regulatory body) defines it as, “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to Health and Safety.”
Bullying takes many forms and can include aggressive behaviour, threats, teasing, being excluded from events, unreasonable work demands, putting unreasonable pressure on you to behave in a certain way or discriminating against an you based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation. If you believe this is happening to you, the first step to take is to check if your employer has a workplace bullying policy; read it carefully and follow the steps (employers – you’re strongly encouraged to have one of these).
If there is no policy, but you wish to raise your complaint formally, you should notify your employer as soon as possible because the longer bullying continues, the more difficult it can be to address. It can be a good idea to put your concerns in writing to avoid any misunderstandings. Following a formal notification your employer must be given a reasonable amount of time to investigate the situation and undertake any disciplinary action if necessary. Business owners are under a legal duty to prevent workplace bullying, and to investigate it if notified.
If you are not satisfied with your employer’s response to the situation following a formal notification, you can raise a legal claim against them in the form of a personal grievance. Anyone who is an employee in New Zealand can raise this claim under the Employment Relations Act. This claim must be raised within 90 days of the date the problem happened or it came to the employee’s attention. If the employer and employee can’t come to a resolution, free mediation services are available through the Employment Relations Authority and, if necessary, the Authority can make a ruling for the parties. If your claim is successful, there are a number of options available to you under the Employment Relations Act. Lane Neave is happy to provide you with more information and/or representation in raising this claim with your employer.
Lane Neave - Employment Law Specialists