Resources: Blog

Worker convicted for bullying behaviour


Court Bags a Bully

Work health and safety legislation aims to provide protections for workers and other persons by eliminating or minimising risks to health and safety.

Work health and safety legislation aims to provide protections for workers and other persons by eliminating or minimising risks to health and safety. In addition to the primary duty of care imposed on businesses, the work health and safety legislation also imposes a duty on workers.

The duty owed by workers is separate to that owed by the business and so, workers can be individually prosecuted for failing to comply with their duty – as recently occurred in a case in NSW involving a tradesman who bullied apprentices in the workplace.

The tradesman was convicted by the NSW District Court for breaching his duty as a worker under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act)

The bullying behaviour, which took place over extended period of time, included verbal abuse, swearing, belittling and threats directed at the apprentices, which caused them to experience distress and anxiety.
The tradesman pleaded guilty and was convicted of failing to comply with his duty to take reasonable care that his acts or omissions did not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.

The tradesman was fined $6,000 plus costs and was also ordered by the Court to attend training in bullying and harassment, anger management and emotional intelligence.

This successful prosecution by SafeWork NSW is a reminder to businesses and workers that bullying is a risk to work health and safety and both businesses and workers have a role to play in preventing workplace bullying, particularly towards younger workers and apprentices who may be more vulnerable to bullying behaviour.

The Court’s orders in this matter, that the tradesman undergo training, should also serve as a timely reminder for employers that in addition to adopting anti-bullying policies, employers should regularly undertake anti-bullying training to ensure that workers are aware of their obligations and duties under the legislation, as well as the potential consequences of breaching those obligations and duties.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Similar articles

Court fines PCBU $60,000 for failing to re-assess the risks associated with changing site conditions

Set and forget

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a positive obligation to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others.


SafeWork NSW successfully prosecutes a PCBU for failing its consultation obligations with other duty holders

Consult, co-operate and co-ordinate

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a range of positive duties and obligations to ensure the health and safety of workers under the model work health and safety laws in Australia.


The onus and presumption in adverse action matters

It’s on you

Under the general protections provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), it is unlawful for a person to take adverse action against another person for a proscribed reason. One of the features of the general protections provisions under the FW Act is the presumption that adverse action was taken for a proscribed reason unless it is proven that the adverse action was not taken for that reason.


Commission finds mask mandate to be a lawful and reasonable direction

Mask up

Employees have a duty to comply with lawful and reasonable directions from their employer. In the current COVID-19 context, a key concern for employers is whether it is lawful and reasonable to issue directions related to safety matters arising from the pandemic.


Lack of consultation rendered mandatory vaccination requirement unreasonable

Talk before you walk

Consultation with employees always plays an important part when introducing changes in the workplace. Under work health and safety legislation, employers have a duty to consult with their workers as far as reasonably practicable in relation to health and safety matters.


Offers of alternative employment in redundancy cases

An offer you can refuse

In most cases of redundancy, employers have an obligation to consult with affected employees about the proposed redundancy and consider whether or not anything can be done to mitigate or minimise the impact on the employee, such as redeployment or obtaining other acceptable employment for the employee.


Let's talk

please contact our directors to discuss how ouR expertise can help your business.

We're here to help

Contact Us
Let Workplace Law become your partner in Workplace Relations.

Signup to receive the latest industry updates with commentary from the Workplace Law team direct to you inbox.