Updated Workplace Bullying Prevention and Management Guides

Safe Work Australia have published updated versions of their anti-bullying guides. The two publications, “Guide for preventing and responding to workplace bullying” and “Dealing with workplace bullying – A worker’s guide” provide information to employers and workers in the context of the work health and safety laws (WHS). Although the WHS are not yet applicable in WA, the guides still act as a useful tool in navigating the anti-bullying arena.

Recent decision of interest:

Hail Creek Coal ordered to pay $1.3M in compensation

The Federal Court delivered its liability judgment in February, holding that Hail Creek Coal (HCC) had taken adverse action against a worker contrary to s 340 of the FWA and also contravened s 50 of the FWA by breaching the Hail Creek Agreement 2011. The decision on compensation and penalty was handed down late last month and HCC was ordered to pay $1.3M in compensation and $50,000 as a pecuniary penalty to the CMFEU.

The worker was stood down from his position as a drill rig operator in November 2013. This decision came after the worker was awarded $638,000 in damages for a work related spinal injury from 2009, and after a medical check held the worker to be unfit to hold his current position, despite having been working and accommodated in that role since late 2010.

The worker successfully challenged the validity of the assessment, and further assessments were undertaken as ordered. HCC continued to affirm its position and ceased to pay the worker on the basis that he had exhausted all sick and annual leave. The Court declared that one of the preliminary assessments marking the worker as fit was valid, and the worker then sought an order for reinstatement. The worker abandoned the reinstatement proceedings and accepted repudiation of his employment agreement, seeking compensation for his past and future losses.

The Court ordered HCC to pay the worker $1,272,109.00 in compensation with $24,626.00 in interest. HCC was also ordered to pay a pecuniary penalty of $50,000 to CMFEU. The Court noted the effect and prolonged nature of HCC’s conduct, its lack of acceptance or insight into its contraventions, and the lack of concern or remorse for the effects of its conduct.

To read this Judgment, click here.