What Bullying is Not and Reasonable Management Action

What Bullying is Not and Reasonable Management Action

This post is contributed by Workplace Conflict Resolution’s Legal Commentator, Tiffany Healy

I recently presented at The Future of Industrial Relations Conference in Sydney. Presenting on the topic of bullying in the workplace, I addressed what reasonable management action entails and also addressed what bullying is NOT in the workplace.

It is clear that workplace bullying is a challenge for managers and employers to manage in the employment context. However, what is equally clear, is that addressing inappropriate behaviours such as bullying head-on allows for workplaces to build a stronger, healthier, more cohesive and harmonious workplace culture.

Below are some interesting takeouts:

The following was presented as what bullying is NOT in the workplace:

  • Reasonable performance management or disciplinary action;
  • Allocating work in compliance with systems, procedures and abilities;
  • A single incident;
  • Non-aggressive conflicts and problems;
  • Occasional differences of opinion, conflicts and interpersonal problems in working relations.

However, it is also important to note that trivial, vexatious, deliberately false complaints may lead to disciplinary action including termination.

In light of this, management action carried out in a reasonable way therefore may include the following actions:

  • Performance appraisals;
  • Ongoing meetings to address underperformance;
  • Counselling or disciplining a worker for misconduct;
  • Modifying a worker’s duties including by transferring or re-deploying the worker;
  • Investigating alleged misconduct;
  • Denying a benefit in relation to their employment;
  • Refusing an employee permission to return to work due to a medical condition.

However, it is imperative to also mention that an informal, spontaneous conversation between a manager and a worker may not be considered management action, even if issues such as those listed above are raised.

Workplace Conflict Resolution specialises in helping Australian businesses create and maintain a harmonious working environment. Whether you need proactive training and preventive measures or are experiencing conflict situations that you need resolved now, Workplace Conflict Resolution is ready to serve.
If you would like to know more or your organisation is looking for support – contact us today.


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About the Author

Tiffany Healy is a legally trained and qualified Nationally Accredited Mediator and a member of the Law Reform Committee with Victorian Women Lawyer’s Association. Tiffany is also trained in managing high conflict personalities in legal disputes.