Bullying and harassment

The Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 and Regulations 2011 define bullying as repeated and unreasonable behaviours directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

What is workplace bullying?

Whether it is intentional or not, workplace bullying if repeated or unreasonable can create a risk to Work Health and Safety. Some examples of this behaviour include:

  • abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
  • unjustified criticism or complaints
  • withholding information that is vital for effective work performance
  • setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing deadlines
  • setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level
  • denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources to the detriment of the worker.

What is not workplace bullying and harassment:

Its reasonable for PCBUs, managers and supervisors to:

  • allocate work
  • direct and control the way that work is done
  • give fair and reasonable feedback on a worker’s performance.

These actions are not considered workplace bullying if they are carried out lawfully and in a reasonable manner.

Difference of opinion and disagreements are generally not considered workplace bullying. People can have differences and disagreements at work without engaging in repeated, unreasonable behaviours that creates a risk to WHS. People may also take offence at some behaviour that, in itself, is not unreasonable (including action by management).

Unreasonable behaviour may involve unlawful discrimination or sexual harassment which, in isolation, is not bullying.

For help with these matters, contact:

What can NT WorkSafe do?

The role of NT WorkSafe is to assess whether the PCBU at the workplace concerned, has appropriate systems in place to manage the risk of exposure to workplace harassment. ​

NT WorkSafe responds to workplace harassment complaints only in certain situations that fall within the scope of the WHS (NUL) Act:

  • The complaint must (on the face of it) fall within the definition of workplace harassment
  • The complaint must be in writing. The complainant will be given or sent an information package which must be completed
  • The complaint should have been raised at the workplace and an attempt made to resolve the complaint internally.

Information regarding the outcome of this step should be included in the written complaint.

NT WorkSafe will not provide mediation, counselling or victim support.

NT WorkSafe does not:

  • handle grievance with workplace’s organisational and management practices or poor management practices as they are not defined as workplace bullying
  • handle where workers feel upset or undervalued at work - this does not mean an individual is being bullied
  • have the authority to order the employer to discipline the alleged bully or terminate their employment
  • have the authority to take sides
  • have the authority to provide legal advice about any proceedings or claims
  • become involved in the specific details of the alleged bullying activities – mediate between the aggrieved person and the alleged bully – validate the alleged bullying – discuss remuneration/ compensation – solve the problem (this ultimate responsibility rests with the workplace parties)

For further information or to request a bullying and harassment complaint form contact NT WorkSafe on 1800 019 115 or ntworksafe@nt.gov.au.

Related Forms and Resources

Preventing and responding to workplace bullying
Workers guide to dealing with workplace bullying