'Closing the book on bullying orders'

Thursday January 8, 2015

The below article from 8 January 2015 has been provided by Bryony Binns, Baker & McKenzie.

The Fair Work Commission has revoked anti-bullying orders upon the application of a complainant employee (applicant) who advised that the orders had been effective, and were no longer required.

Back in March 2014 the Fair Work Commission (FWC) published its first substantive orders in response to a claim brought under new anti-bullying laws that commenced on 1 January 2014 (see our post on the orders made here).

In Applicant v Respondent (AB2014/1052), a number of orders were made by the FWC to specify certain administrative controls designed to stop the applicant and respondent from being in direct contact in circumstances where bullying conduct was substantiated. One interesting feature of the orders was that they were not bound in time, and had potential to operate indefinitely where the parties made no further application to the FWC.

The orders made in March 2014 were later varied in September 2014 to specify further administrative controls on the interactions between the applicant and respondent, including in relation to their email contact and discussion of work-related issues (amongst other things). However, at the time of the variation, it was contemplated that future circumstances might permit the FWC to dismiss all orders made so that the relationship of the applicant and respondent could be managed at the workplace, independently of the FWC.

In December 2014, Senior Deputy President Drake revoked the September 2014 orders following receipt of a letter from the applicant. The letter indicated that the applicant believed it appropriate to remove the orders.  In the applicant’s letter (which forms part of SDP Drake’s decision), the applicant acknowledged the positive nature of the FWC’s intervention.

This case, which has now resolved, demonstrates that the FWC does have the capacity to assist in resolving workplace conflict in the context of a continuing employment relationship. SDP Drake’s decision also provides an example on how new anti-bullying laws operate in practice, highlighting the ability of an applicant to approach the FWC to remove orders which are no longer necessary.

Applicant [2014] FWC 9184



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