What’s been happening in Australia in relation to workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying from 19 – 25 October 2015

A study of more than 22, 000 university staff from 19 Australian Universities shows that 28% of academics reported being bullied, 12% saying the bullying was serious enough to consider taking a formal case. However, people were reluctant to take action as they felt this would make things worse.

Bullying in regional universities was 1.5 times more likely than in the urban universities. Workplace bullying has a direct cost of around $18,000 per claim according to Safe Work Australia. Research also showed that Aboriginal Australian, people from ethnic minority groups, women and those with family commitments were more likely to be bullied.

A construction worker who resigned after being told of a significant reduction in his salary upon returning from injury leave has won his unfair dismissal case. Mr Fields will receive $37,5000 in compensation. Commissioner Drake found that the salary reduction of 20% from $75,000 to $60,000 without valid reason constituted termination of Mr Field’s employment. She said Mr Fields had been unwell following serious injury and there was no issue as to the bona fides of his application for paid and unpaid sick leave. He then returned to work as soon as he recovered. The company did not provide the employee with an opportunity to return to his pre-injury duties and have his capacity assessed they simply assumed he was operating at a lower level and expected him to prove himself and work his way back up to his salary. The company made a mistake by linking his productivity to his injury and sick leave. The Commission said you can demote someone lawfully by reducing duties and pay but if that reduction is found to be ‘significant’ (and 20% is) then a dismissal will be found to have occurred.