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A first: Bullying to be heard as a personal grievance

A first for NZ: Landmark ERA decision to allow workplace bullying to be heard as a personal grievance

This history-making precedent set by the Employment Relations Authority to recognise that workplace bullying is not okay is a huge step by both the Authority and the Government, says Culture Safe NZ director Allan Halse.

“Currently I am managing 30 bullying cases where the bullying would be ruled inadmissible by the Authority because their interpretation of the law was hindered by the previous government,” Halse said.

“But in Christchurch just last month, the Authority recognised a 2015 bullying complaint of a client as a personal grievance.

“This is the first and right step for a progressive country like New Zealand to take.

“This news is truly momentous, and the Minister and his team should be applauded for taking the initiative to stop bullying.”

Halse said it’s now time for business leaders to recognise that it’s not okay to have bullying of any form in the workplace.

“The opportunity is to learn from this precedent and investigate how they can stop any bullying activity in their own workplaces.

“Until now, victims have been let down by the process. Now the process has started to catch up, victims will be more likely get what is right, and that is access to justice.

“With the likes of the Margaret Beazley investigation into Russell McVeagh, the Labour Party’s youth conference where young people were allegedly exposed to illegal activity and the #Metoo movement clearly shows there are too many issues out there that aren’t being addressed by a modern and progressive country like New Zealand.

“But, with this truly ground-breaking precedent the victims get to speak. The culture of sweeping it under the mat – has stopped.”

Halse said that now the precedent had been set, the focus is on effecting other positive changes to the Authority to ensure that victims are safe from psychological harm during the entire process and by driving a workplace culture that truly is supportive and rewarding and therefore free from bullying.

“Business must think smarter, because if they don’t their own culture will be tested through the courts and that’s not a win for anyone,” Halse said.

CultureSafe NZ is New Zealand’s leading agency on supporting thinking about workplace bullying, and helping both clients and businesses regarding bullying issues.

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