Bullying & violence at work

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Everyone has the right to feel safe at work without the risk of getting injured. You should not be threatened, harassed or bullied at work.

If you’re the victim of workplace violence or crime, there’s help available.

What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying includes things like:

  • Practical jokes
  • Being criticised or insulted
  • Rumours being spread about you
  • Being threatened with losing your job
  • Being overloaded with work

These are only some of the ways you can be bullied.

What is workplace violence?

Workplace violence includes things like:

  • Someone threatening to hurt you
  • Being pushed, punched, kicked or shoved
  • Having things thrown at you
  • Racist or unwelcome sexual comments
  • Indecent physical contact, like being felt up

This is not a complete list. Other behaviour could also be workplace violence.

What can I do about it?

You don't have to put up with bullying. It can be difficult to tackle a bully on your own, and sometimes it's still hard even if you do have the support of your friends or colleagues.

If you are being bullied at work, or have experienced workplace violence, here are some suggestions for what you can do.

What you can do if you're an employee

Under the OHS Act you have the right to refuse to work if you’re in immediate danger.

Here are five steps you should take to deal with violence or bullying:

  1. Tell your employer what happened
  2. Take photos of any injuries (go to the doctor and get a WorkCover medical certificate if needed)
  3. Get help (from places like JobWatch, your union or a solicitor)
  4. Report what happened to WorkSafe Victoria (new window)
  5. Keep a record of what happens to you and hang onto any evidence (like medical certificates, WorkCover claims and any physical evidence like emails or photos)

If you’re the victim of violence or bullying at work you can contact:

  • Your union (if you’re a union member - check out the Australian Council of Trade Unions (new window) for more information about unions and how to join them) 
  • Your occupational health and safety representative (if your workplace has one)
  • Your human resources manager
  • WorkSafe Victoria (new window)
  • JobWatch (new window)
  • The police

If you plan to take legal action there are time limits on when you can make a claim, so get advice as soon as you can.

What you can do if you're an apprentice or trainee

As an apprentice or trainee you have the same rights as other employees.

If you’re the victim of workplace violence or bullying you should report the incident to an Apprenticeship Field Officer (new window).

When is workplace violence a crime?

Some workplace violence is criminal behaviour and punishable by law. If you think you’ve been the victim of a crime (for example, if someone causes you serious injury) you should make a statement at your local police station.

Even if no one else knows about what’s happened you should report it to the police.

More information

The following are places that can provide you with more information about your rights relating to workplace violence or bullying: