Bullying Case – Performance Management

Bullying Case – Performance Management

Fair Work has ruled an employee who received what was described as “heavy handed” treatment, including intolerance and low-level anger from both a boss and from a colleague was not bullied.

What was most interesting and has come up previously was that the core issue was a poorly executed performance management process.

As background – the employee received a written warning for leaving wooden steps where toddlers could climb them and also was counselled about applying the wrong sunscreen to a child at the day care centre.

The employee lodged a complaint of unfair treatment with the centre’s committee of management, who investigated, but dismissed it as unsubstantiated.

On top of these warnings, it was acknowledged there had been a “history of interpersonal conflict” that did not amount to bullying between two colleagues.

It was stated, just because a couple of employees probably did not like each other, and may even have been mutually hostile towards each other – this did not amount to bullying.

FWC stated while a fellow colleague well have been upset, exhibited intolerance or low level anger towards the complaint it did not constitute unreasonable behaviour under the Act.

The Commissioner said the employer was entitled to counsel the employee but noted that they had been “heavy handed” and insufficiently allowing of the possibility that the matters in dispute might be wrong.

It was recommended the employer follow a clear and defined performance improvement process.

Lesson: At HR Central our well-structured performance review process, is able to provide the right foundation and process to minimise the possibility of employees being able to equate, reasonable management action in the execution of performance management with bullying.

Michael O'Shaughnessy

Michael is a specialist in all things HR. With vast HR experience in the USA and Australia, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and advice to HR Central. When he's not blogging for HR Central you can find him out for dinner in one of Melbourne's newest restaurants.

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