Every worker has the right to be safe at work. This includes working in an environment free from unacceptable behaviour such as bullying and harassment.

It is illegal for someone to harass or bully you at work. Your employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe work environment, and to prevent and respond to bullying.  

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can include: 

  • repeated hurtful remarks or attacks, or making fun of your work or you as a person (including your family, sex, sexuality, gender identity, race or culture, education or economic background) 
  • sexual harassment, such as unwelcome touching and sexually explicit comments, or requests that make you uncomfortable
  • intimidation (making you feel scared, or less important and undervalued) 
  • giving you pointless tasks that have nothing to do with your job 
  • giving you impossible jobs that can't be done in the given time or with the resources provided 
  • pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing you in the workplace 
  • attacking or threatening with equipment, knives, guns, clubs or any other type of object that can be turned into a weapon 
  • initiation or hazing - where you are made to do humiliating or inappropriate things in order to be accepted as part of the team. 

Bullying is when someone in the workplace repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards you, another person, or a group, and causes a risk to health and safety in the workplace. 

Bullying and harassment does not include your manager or supervisor taking disciplinary action towards you (e.g. for unsatisfactory performance), or directing the way you work. 

Nevertheless, if your manager or supervisor is doing any of the things listed in the dot points above, that can be considered bullying or harassment. Bullying and harassment is unacceptable, no matter who it is coming from.  

Bullying is different to discrimination. If you feel that you are being discriminated against, you should read our fact sheet on discrimination here

What do I do if I am being bullied or harassed at work? 

If you are being bullied or harassed at work, you should get in touch with us. We can give you advice about what you can do, and direct you to other people who can help, such as your union, your workplace Health and Safety Representative, or WorkSafe. If the behaviour includes physical violence, you should call the police. 

To find out more about how to join your union, visit http://www.unionsact.org.au/joinyourunion/ or have a look at our fact sheet here.

Authorised by M Harrison for UnionsACT, 11 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601.

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