Bullying and Harassment Policy

megan adamsAuthor: Megan Adams, Progressive Legal

bullying and harassment policy

In the pursuit of maintaining a positive and productive work environment, businesses in Australia must prioritise the prevention and management of bullying and harassment. These detrimental behaviours can have severe consequences for employees’ physical and mental well-being, productivity, and they can also present significant legal risks for employers.

To address these concerns effectively, it is crucial for businesses to implement a robust Bullying and Harassment Policy that promotes a culture of respect, equality, and inclusivity. This article explores the key components of such a policy and emphasises its significance in fostering a safe and healthy workplace. 

What is the difference between Bullying and Harassment? 

Before delving into the policy details, it is essential to comprehend the distinctions between bullying and harassment in the workplace: 


Bullying constitutes repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards an individual or group, which causes physical or psychological harm. It may manifest as verbal abuse, intimidation, humiliation, exclusion, or offensive conduct. 


Harassment involves any unwanted conduct based on a person’s protected characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or age. It creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment for the victim. 

Why is having a Bullying and Harassment Policy important for your business? 

Employee Well-being

A robust policy demonstrates that the company values its employees’ well-being and is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment. Addressing bullying and harassment helps protect employees’ physical and mental health, leading to increased job satisfaction, reduced stress levels, and improved overall morale. 

Productivity and Performance

Workplace bullying and harassment can negatively impact employee productivity and job performance. By creating a respectful and inclusive culture, the policy fosters a more collaborative and cohesive workforce, leading to increased productivity and better business outcomes. 

Legal Compliance

Businesses in Australia have legal obligations to provide a safe workplace and address workplace bullying and harassment. Implementing a formal policy helps the business meet these legal requirements and reduces the risk of potential legal claims and costly litigation. 

Risk Mitigation

A well-defined policy outlines procedures for reporting and addressing incidents promptly and fairly. By having a structured process in place, the business can better manage and mitigate the risks associated with bullying and harassment, preventing escalation and damage to the company’s reputation. 

Having a structured process in place also helps employees report bullying and harassment, which can reduce an employer’s legal risk. 

Preventing Liability

Employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. By demonstrating proactive efforts to prevent bullying and harassment and promptly addressing any complaints, the business can potentially avoid liability for the actions of individual employees. 

Promoting Inclusivity and Diversity

A comprehensive policy underscores the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. By fostering an environment free from discrimination and harassment, the policy encourages employees from diverse backgrounds to feel welcome and valued, leading to a more inclusive workplace. 

Talent Attraction and Retention

A positive workplace culture, supported by a strong Bullying and Harassment Policy, enhances the business’s reputation as an employer of choice. This can help attract top talent and improve employee retention rates, reducing recruitment and training costs. 

Reinforcing Company Values

A policy that aligns with the business’s core values, mission, and vision reinforces the company’s commitment to ethical behaviour and responsible corporate citizenship. 

Employee Trust and Engagement

When employees know that their workplace takes bullying and harassment seriously, they are more likely to trust the business’ leadership and feel engaged with their work. This can lead to higher employee loyalty and commitment to the company’s success. 

Positive Business Reputation

A workplace known for its commitment to a respectful and inclusive environment can enhance the business’s overall reputation among customers, clients, and business partners. This positive reputation can lead to increased customer loyalty and support. 

Take the first step towards a safer, more inclusive workplace. Make an enquiry below to create a tailored workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy that safeguards your employees’ well-being, boosts productivity, ensures legal compliance, and strengthens your business’s reputation.

What should a Bullying and Harassment Policy include? 

Purpose and Scope

Outline that the purpose of the policy is to prevent and address bullying and harassment in the workplace and specify who the policy applies to.  

Definition and Examples

The policy should include precise definitions of bullying and harassment, along with illustrative examples, to aid employees in recognising inappropriate behaviours. 

Appropriate behaviour

Clearly specify the kinds of behaviours that are expected in the workplace and the behaviours that are prohibited in the workplace.  

Reporting Mechanisms

Establish a confidential and accessible reporting system to encourage employees to report incidents without fear of retaliation. Ensure multiple reporting channels, such as anonymous hotlines, dedicated email addresses, or confidential HR representatives. It is also important to have clear reporting avenues available for people who may need to report bullying and harassment by the person they would normally report to. 

Investigation Process

Outline a fair and impartial investigation process for handling complaints. Investigations should be conducted promptly, and all parties involved must be treated with sensitivity and respect.  Remember that there is a balancing decision each employer has to make in each bullying or harassment case between disclosing information that has been put to them and protecting a victim’s anonymity if the victim wishes to preserve that. 

Support and Protection

Emphasise the protection of victims and witnesses during the investigation and prohibit any form of retaliation against those who come forward with complaints. 

Consequences for Violations

Clearly state the consequences for individuals found guilty of bullying or harassment, which may range from counselling and disciplinary actions to termination of employment, depending on the severity of the offense. 

Training and Education

Regularly conduct training sessions for all employees to raise awareness of bullying and harassment, recognise inappropriate behaviours, and understand the company’s policies and procedures. 

Our policies cover all aspects, ensuring clear definitions, appropriate behaviours, confidential reporting mechanisms, impartial investigations, victim protection, and swift consequences. Contact us now to establish a workplace free from bullying and harassment through effective training and robust policies.

What are the legal obligations of a Bullying and Harassment Policy? 

Compliance with Australian laws and regulations is critical when drafting a Bullying and Harassment Policy: 

Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

Employers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment, which includes protecting employees from bullying and harassment. The Fair Work Commission can hear bullying complaints under this act. 

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth)

Employers must ensure that their policies align with the principles of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination outlined in this act. 

State Work Health and Safety Acts

Persons conducting a business must manage the health and safety risks of workplace bullying and harassment.  

Key Takeaways 

A strong and effective Bullying and Harassment Policy is fundamental in fostering a safe, inclusive, and productive workplace for all employees. By actively promoting a culture of respect and accountability, businesses in Australia can prevent and address incidents of bullying and harassment while complying with legal requirements. 

If you need a Bullying and Harassment Policy for your business, feel free to contact our team of highly skilled workplace lawyers at Progressive Legal. Give us a call on 1800 820 083 or make an enquiry below.

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