New laws introduced into the Victoria State Parliament yesterday (April 5) will criminalise bullying and cyber-bullying in the workplace, with offenders looking at up to 10 years’ jail time. The bill – nicknamed ‘Brodie’s law’ in honour of victim Brodie Panlock who committed suicide in 2006 after co-workers bullied her at a Hawthorn café – is designed to amend the state’s Crimes Act. The Vic Government cabinet approved the Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill on Monday, and it was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday (April 5). The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) said the law would put pressure on employees, but it believed employers were already doing enough on workplace bullying. “Good employers do not condone bullying and most have procedures in place to deter bullying behaviour,” VECCI CEO Wayne Kayler-Thomson said. “There must be a balanced approach to combating bullying in the workplace – employees must feel safe in the workplace but jail sentences must be focused on the most severe offences. We would ultimately be best served by national approach to this issue – many Victorian businesses have interstate offices and cyber bullying does not respect State boundaries.” ACTU president Ged Kearney said the proposed laws would send an “important signal” to bullies but employers still had to take responsibility for ensuring safe workplaces free of bullies. “Ultimate responsibility of providing a safe workplace is with the employer and in no way should new laws absolve them of that responsibility, or of their liability,” she said. “Criminal sanctions alone will not necessarily change a poisonous workplace culture.”
Source: Thomson Reuters’ HR Report, 6 April 2011.
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