The inquiry was announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and was referred to the Committee in May with the aim of complementing work currently underway to develop the code of practice on preventing and responding to workplace bullying and initiatives by state and territory governments. The review is looking at the nature, causes and extent of workplace bullying.
The government is considering whether further workplace bullying legislation is warranted. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has backed a national version of a law. The Productivity Commission puts the total cost of workplace bullying in Australia at between $6 billion and $36 billion annually.
The Committee has been receiving a strong response to its call for written submissions from organizations and experts in the field, as well as many individuals who have experienced bullying in the workplace.
Psychological harm from workplace bullying is becoming a common basis for a workers' compensation claim. John Watson, general manager of WorkCover NSW's health and safety division, said the organization received more than 5000 calls a year about workplace bullying.
The committee is expected to report by November 30, 2012. We will keep you posted.
Information, including transcripts of all but the September 13 hearing, may be viewed at Inquiry into Workplace Bullying.
Ellen Pinkos Cobb, J.D. a Senior Regulatory & Legal Analyst at The Isosceles Group in Boston, Massachusetts, has many years of experience in the employment discrimination law field and has spent the last three years extensively focusing on workplace psychosocial issues including bullying and harassment. She is also the author of Bullying, Violence, Harassment, Discrimination and Stress: Emerging Workplace Health and Safety Issues, an international review of legislation, compliance guidelines, and developments on workplace bullying.