Overview

Workplace bullying is a risk to workplace health and safety. Find out about bullying, what it is and what to do about it. 

If you’re a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you have work health and safety (WHS) duties to ensure workers and others are not exposed to risks to their health and safety, including from bullying.   

How to tell if it’s bullying 

Behaviour is bullying if it’s: 

  • repeated and unreasonable 

  • directed towards a person or group of people. 

Workplace bullying includes abusive, offensive or intimidating behaviour, language or comments. 

If can also be: 

  • belittling or humiliating comments 

  • practical jokes, initiation or hazing 

  • unjustified criticism or complaints. 

Some bullying is indirect, like not including someone in activities at work, on purpose. It can be subtle, so it’s not always easy to spot.  

Managing someone in a reasonable way is not bullying. Sometimes you need to monitor work quality and talk about performance. If you need to address performance issues: 

  • keep the conversation constructive and supportive 

  • focus on positives as well as negatives 

  • make sure you don’t humiliate or demean the person. 

Disagreeing is not bullying. However, if you don’t manage conflicts, they could escalate into bullying. 

Effects of workplace bullying  

Bullying can harm the person it’s directed at or those who witness it.  

It can harm physical and mental health, leading to: 

  • feelings of being alone and isolated 

  • confidence loss and withdrawal 

  • stress, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

  • stress-related illnesses 

  • problems with a person’s job, career and financial security 

  • suicidal thoughts. 

What to do if you experience it 

Your employer should provide you with information and support on how to respond if bullying is directed at you, what to do if you witness it and how to report it.  

Dealing with workplace bullying - a worker's guide has more information if you experience or see bullying, or if you’ve had a bullying report made against you.