Employers Relieved of Some Responsibility For Bullying

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Employers Relieved of Some Responsibility For Bullying

02/04/2015

A recent case has defined work-related bullying as activity that either involves the performance of work (or during other authorised activities such as meal breaks), or occurs at the work place. In this case bullying by colleagues via social media would not be considered work-related social bullying, unless the content was generated and accessed during work hours. However, the bullying behaviour continues for as long as the content is active – later access when back at the workplace would be sufficient to provide a link to work. Bullying between colleagues or workers and managers outside of the workplace and in an elective social context also would not constitute work-related bullying. 

This is helpful news for employers, who are limited in their ability to control worker behaviour outside of the workplace. However, there is still an onus on workplace behaviour standards and also reactive behaviour. If the bullying behaviour can be seen to be continuous for so long as, for example, a Facebook comment remains online, and the target of that comment can access it at work, it may continue to provide a source of aggravation and it would likely be reasonable for the employer to ask the offending colleague to remove it. 

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