Free bullying and harassment policy templates (Australia)

Be clear on your company’s policies when it comes to bullying and harassment in the workplace.

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A bullying and harrassment policy is a key document all businesses should have to protect employees from unacceptable behaviour. Here's everything you need to know about these policies, including what you should write in your policy, and templates to help you create an effective and professional document easily.

What is a bullying and harassment policy?

Bullying and harassment can include inappropriate behaviour towards a person, or a group of people, that will have a negative effect on their health. A bullying and harassment policy would set out your organisation's stance on this. The policy can also include disciplinary action that might be taken against employees who break the agreements in the policy.

harassment and bullying policy template from Lawpath

Download this template at Lawpath

When should I use a bullying and harassment policy?

A bullying and harassment policy is used by employers to help inform employees of appropriate and inappropriate behaviours and detail disciplinary procedures. It also sets out behaviours that could be classed as bullying and harassment. It can be used when your organisation is looking to make the official stance on bullying and harassment clear to employees.

What does a bullying and harassment policy include and not include?

The policy contains definitions of workplace bullying and harassment and details the role of managers and supervisors in fostering a safe working environment. The policy may include:

  • Unacceptable workplace behaviour
  • Steps for employees to report such behaviour
  • Any disciplinary action that might be taken against an employee

What is included in a bullying and harassment policy?

A bullying and harassment policy will cover any behaviour that discriminates, offends or humiliates anyone in your workplace.

What shouldn't be included in a bullying and harassment policy?

The policy doesn't cover disciplinary management of an individual's lack of performance, and it does not direct employees on how to carry out work. The policy wouldn't include statistics on reported bullying and harassment.

How effective is a bullying and harassment policy?

A bullying and harassment policy can be very effective as it can help workers take action by formally reporting any incidents and additionally help employees avoid psychological distress.

Research from the University of South Australia has found that two-thirds of Australians have experienced some form of bullying in the workplace. Organisations can manage workplace bullying by taking a proactive approach and creating a policy. Furthermore, adopting a bullying and harassment policy for employers will be useful, as it will highlight and send a clear message that your organisation does not tolerate inappropriate behaviour. However, you should aim to use the policy alongside other initiatives such as training on appropriate behaviours and fostering collegiality.

Do I need a lawyer for a bullying and harassment policy?

The Australian government has created a commission which is responsible for dealing with anti-bullying claims. A person who has been bullied at work can apply to the commission for an order to stop bullying. As there can be further legal ramifications it might be advisable to have a lawyer check over your policy. In the future, if you're asked to appear before a commission it is not necessary to hire a lawyer, but is wise to do so.

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How do I write a bullying and harassment policy?

Writing a bullying and harassment policy involves a number of steps. First you need to check if your contract of employment has included any provisions on how to resolve workplace bullying and harassment and make sure to include these in your policy. You can then examine other organisation's bullying and harassment policies and use a free template to begin to draft your policy.

You can find free templates from the following websites:

  • Australian Human Rights Commission.This is a non commercial organisation that will provide legal documents and templates for free.
  • Lawpath. Lawpath is an online legal services website which offers legal documents which can be customised.

Frequently asked questions

What are the impacts of bullying in the workplace?

Workplace bullying can lead to stress, depression, reduced performance, and declining job satisfaction. In the long-run, if staff are constantly leaving your organisation due to bullying in the workplace, it'll end up costing you a lot of money to replace them.

What is the purpose of a workplace bullying and harassment policy?

Typically, the policy will communicate to employers including managers and senior executives that your organisation will not tolerate bullying and harassment. It might also detail disciplinary actions that your organisation can take against staff if they were to engage in inappropriate behaviours. However, your organisation might also wish to provide further training and information around workplace bullying and harassment in addition to providing a policy.

What are the benefits of having the policy?

The policy will make it clear that your organisation does not tolerate bullying, leading to a more collaborative working environment. This is because the policy would also note disciplinary actions for anyone not adhering to the policy. A collaborative working environment can lead to better employee productivity and help you attract the best talent to your organisation.

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