Australia needs to introduce national laws to make workplace bullying illegal and give victims quicker access to the legal system, according to an employment lawyer.
Maurice Blackburn employment and industrial law principal Josh Bornstein has called upon the Federal Government to ensure workplace bullying is explicitly addressed by new national legislation, rather than forcing victims to rely on the current occupational health and safety or personal injury laws.
"[Workplace bullying] is devastating for victims and their families and has an immense economic impact. The Productivity Commission estimates bullying and harassment costs the Australian economy between $6 billion and $36 billion a year," said Bornstein.
"It is astounding that Australia lacks national legislation to enable victims to take action to stop bullying in its tracks."
According to Bornstein, legislation is needed to allow employees to seek a remedy proactively before any damage is done.
Borstein is calling upon the Government to introduce new legislation giving victims the ability to quickly access a court or tribunal to expose bullying at work; enable victims to seek court orders or injunctions for proven cases of bullying; a national educational campaign to reveal the true costs of workplace bullying and to work with Australia's mental health sector to pre-empt the health, economic and other damage wrought by the problem.
"A national law that enables employees to seek urgent orders stopping the bullying conduct and before the real damage is done is well overdue. Once a light is shone on a bullying culture, it tends to wither and die."