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The ERA Is a Sham And Failing Bullying Victims

The ERA Is a Sham And Failing Bullying Victims

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) is failing the victims of workplace bullying because victims are being thrown into a process that treats it like an employment matter and not a health and safety one, according to CultureSafe NZ director Allan Halse.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t take the prosecution of a suicide case to change New Zealand’s laws to recognise that bullying is a criminal act and a health and safety issue. The issue of bullying is not an employment matter and the victims of bullying are not getting a fair hearing – it’s a total sham,” said Allan Halse.

CultureSafe NZ has asked for the new Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety to provide a new jurisdiction for its clients who are currently forced to take their cases to the ERA. It is impossible to win a case there if the employer’s lawyer insisted on any incident of bullying over 90-days old, where a personal grievance hasn’t been raised prior, to be excluded - the ERA just rubber stamp that action.

“Basically, victims who are petrified of the bullying must raise a formal personal grievance with the employer within 90 days of every bullying incident, or in the eyes of the ERA, the bullying never happened. The evidence prior to that 90-days is deemed inadmissible.

CultureSafe NZ is refusing to continue with ten current cases before the ERA.

“Our clients will automatically lose because the ERA is unable to use the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and that’s not fair to them from a justice perspective.

“This new worker-friendly Government must step up, and not brush the issue of bullying under the mat like National did. They must change the law.

Australia has Brodie’s law. The state of Victoria allows for the person who is bullying (not the employer) to be prosecuted. And a bully can be jailed for up to 10 years.

But, here in New Zealand, the big gap that victims are falling through is that the health and safety legislation isn’t protecting them – because it’s seen as an employment matter.

“But, get run over by the company truck and Worksafe NZ has the ability to press criminal charges and close the site.

“Worksafe NZ as an organisation should be geared up to investigate bullying cases and not just in a 90-day timeframe. They have no processes, no systems and no clue about how to investigate a bullying complaint.

“If this government is wanting to increase productivity, to foster better workplace relations and look after workers, then they need to make workplace bullying a criminal act.

“Victims deserve justice, and at the moment, there is no justice, no recognition and no action – I’m looking forward to the Minister changing that.”

Just like those who are abused by online cyber-bullying, the abuser should be subject to police investigation and prosecution.

“It makes no sense that cyber bullies be punished through a criminal process, yet those in the workplace get off scot-free?” Halse said.

What is Brodie’s Law?

Victoria’s anti-bullying legislation, known as Brodie’s Law, commenced in June 2011 and made serious bullying a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Brodie’s Law was introduced after the tragic suicide of a young woman, Brodie Panlock, who was subjected to relentless bullying in her workplace.

Brodie’s Law makes serious bullying a criminal offence by extending the application of the stalking provisions in the Crimes Act 1958 to include behaviour that involves serious bullying.

The offence of stalking, and therefore conduct that amounts to serious bullying, carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

In Victoria Australia, there is a special law against the workplace bullies.


1. The cost of bullying to the economy is unquantified in New Zealand, In Australia figures for bullying equate to $36 billion a year.

2. A NZ study had shown that throughout New Zealand 1 in 5 people are bullied in the workplace.

3. That’s equivalent to 400,000 New Zealanders who are subject to some form of being bullied in the work force


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