Due to more incidents of workplace bullying as Australia's economic condition weakens, national workers' compensation claims for harassment almost doubled in three years.
Unions WA President Meredith Hammat told the House of Representatives Education and Employment Standing Committee probe on Wednesday that situation is expected to further worsen as the global economy heads for another downturn.
"People are under increasing stress at work and there's research that tells us where organisations are restructuring, where there's contracting out or privatisation, often workplace bullying and mental health issues are a consequence," Perth Now quoted Ms Hammat.
She explained such a situation creates an environment that places stress on people in an organisation which is also stressed.
A Productivity Commission study estimates the cost of workplace harassment to the Australian economy at $36 billion a year. Among its known consequences on individuals are suicide and mental health problems, although Ms Hammat pointed out workplace bullying if often underreported since many victims often just find other jobs.
Ms Hammat sought for the crafting of a national code of practice on bullying to address the flaws in current complaint procedures.
"If someone has a problem with their manager or supervisor, often the resolution process will require them to talk to the person who is doing the bullying in the first place. One of the things that would help in terms of legislation is ensuring there is a truly independent third party that people can go to resolve issues," ABC quoted Ms Hammat.
Although there is such a draft prepared by Safe Work Australia, Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said the proposed code is focused on handling physical bullying, not emotional ones. She proposed the amendment of the Equal Opportunity Act to achieve a fairer resolution process.
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