Bullying 'far too common' in the workplace

A national advisory service should be established to help workers and employers respond to bullying in the workplace, a parliamentary inquiry has recommended.

The House of Representatives inquiry has also recommended that a national definition of bullying be adopted.

Labor MP Amanda Rishworth, who chaired the inquiry, said bullying was happening far too often in Australian workplaces.

"A chief concern of witnesses was the lack of clarity about what to do and where to go for help," Ms Rishworth said.

"That is why we recommend, in consultation with stakeholders, that the Commonwealth Government establish a new national advisory service to provide advice, assistance and resolution services to employers and workers alike. We hope that this report forms part of the national conversation we need to have on this topic and offers ways for moving forward."

The committee recommended that a national advisory service be established to provide practical and operational advice on what does and does not constitute workplace bullying, and materials to assist work workers and employers deal with the issue.

The inquiry said workplace bullying should be defined as, "repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety".

It also also called for a review of the "fit for duty" test used to respond to bullying in the Australian Public Service.

In a dissenting report, Coalition MPs agreed that more needed to be done to address workplace bullying, but warned that increasing formal regulations could be counterproductive.

They also highlighted evidence that workers wrong accused of being bullied could be damaged in a similar way to those who were actually bullied.

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