Posted on: Sep 26, 2012

Recent cases of a fast-food worker who was punched by her manager, and an Auckland Council manager who verbally abused staff, highlight New Zealand’s legislative weaknesses in the area of workplace bullying, according to two academics.

Professor Tim Bentley of AUT’s New Zealand Work Research Institute and Dr Bevan Catley, director of Massey University’s Healthy Work Group, both agree that bullying in the workplace needs to be taken more seriously and that these recent cases indicate the poor understanding that organisations have about the nature of workplace bullying and how issues associated with it need to be managed.

Both academics believe there is a need for more information about bullying and the impact it has in the workplace and, according to Professor Bentley, “Too often good staff have no option but to quit while the bully remains protected by top management”.

The recent cases show the high human and financial cost of bullying in the New Zealand workplace, and highlight how our regulatory bodies do not take the issue seriously in comparison with Australia, where some states have criminalised workplace bullying.

In a recent paper, Massey University’s Healthy Work Group argues for the development of an Approved Code of Practice because there is no regulatory framework that addresses workplace bullying.


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