Bullying And Workers’ Compensation Claims

The Australian Human Rights Organisation defines workplace bullying as ‘verbal, physical social or psychological abuse by your employer (or manager), another person or group of people at work’ [1].

Workplace bullying is a serious issue and one that can occur at workplaces of all kinds in Australia. In 2019 research revealed that, compared with 31 European countries, Australia ranked sixth highest for workplace bullying. The research further found that 10 per cent of Australian workers admitted to being bullied at work, with much more anti-social workplace behaviour going unreported [2].

Workplace bullying can have significant impacts on a person and can cause stress, anxiety, panic attacks, physical impacts (such as headaches, loss of appetite and loss of sleep) as well as impact their work performance, self-esteem and relationships with other colleagues, family and friends.

Bullying may also be discrimination if it is occurring because of your age, sex, race, disability, pregnancy, relationship status, sexual orientation or gender identity.


What is the role of employers?

Employers have a responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination law to provide a safe workplace for their employees.

They should provide sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision to employees to enable them to work in a way that is safe and without risks to health. This responsibility should include measures to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.


What can I do if I am a victim of workplace bullying?

Workers should record any bullying incidents that have occurred, including making note of the date, time, place and person(s) involved. Workers should try to first resolve any bullying issues in the workplace, starting by reporting the incident verbally and then following that up in writing to their supervisor or manager.

Additionally, workers experiencing any health problems such as anxiety, stress, sleep disturbance, headaches, loss of appetite etc. should make an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible and ask the GP to note down it is work-related.


Can I make a bullying workers’ compensation claim?

A common question that we get asked is whether or not a person who has suffered a psychological injury in the workplace can make a worker’s compensation claim? 

The simple answer is yes but it is more complicated than that as there are several defences the employer can rely on (eg. injury caused only due to reasonable disciplinary actions by the employer will not succeed).

According to Safe Work Australia’s ‘Australian workers’ compensation statistics 2019-20’ report, in 2019-20 there were 120,355 serious workers’ compensation claims made in Australia. 31 per cent of these claims were for illnesses and diseases and most of these claims were related to mental health conditions [3].

If you feel that the matter of workplace bullying has not been adequately handled by your employer you could speak with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

If your doctor certifies that you are totally or partially unable to work due to stress/anxiety caused by your workplace, you may be eligible to make a claim for workers’ compensation which if accepted can include payment of reasonable medical expenses and weekly payments to cover loss of earnings.


How we can help

The thought of making a workers’ compensation claim, understandably, can be very stressful and overwhelming for people. Here at Anvil Legal, we are trusted workers’ compensation lawyers who are dedicated to making your workers’ compensation claim go as smoothly as possible and will always have your best interests at heart.

The Founder and Principal Lawyer at Anvil Legal has extensive knowledge in workers’ compensation law and has many years of experience in helping clients from a range of industries with their claims.

We understand that the costs of legal action can be daunting for some people, particularly if their wages have been reduced as a result of an injury. At Anvil Legal, we try to keep any costs to you to a minimum, which is why we offer our No Win No Fee Solution* to most clients with a workers’ compensation claim. Call us to discuss your claim today or please fill out an enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.




[1] ‘Workplace bullying: Violence, Harassment and Bullying Fact sheet’, The Australian Human Rights Organisation, 2011.

[2] ‘Ending Australia’s culture of workplace bullying’, The University of South Australia, 2019.

[3] ‘Australian workers’ compensation statistics 2019-20’, SafeWork Australia, 2021.

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