Mar 29, 2022

#psychologicalinjury #Workplacebullying #vulnerableworkers #compensationlaw #humandignityintheworkplace #bullyingatwork #workcover #humanrights

I was recently reminded that Human Dignity is not just an abstract concept that forms the basis of our human rights protections. A general ‘Respect for Human Dignity’ needs a place in every workplace, with an on-going dialogue to reinforce it. Employers’ failure to do this has caused many of the existing workers’ compensation claims of workplace bullying leading to psychological injury, with large sums of compensation. There are many more to follow if this advice is not heeded by employers.

The cost of workplace bullying to all parties, both emotional and financial, is increasing. Workers’ Compensation insurers are facing increased and unprecedented numbers of claim for psychological injury in the workplace. I suggest that some education and insight for employers is long overdue.
Workplaces have always been complex environments, usually with a melting pot of diverse personalities, ambitions and agendas, overlaid by hierarchy, structure and KPI’s. When you combine this with the current economic uncertainty, increases in the cost of living not being matched by increases in employee’s entitlements, increases in casual workers, we have a power imbalance that often favours the employer and leaves the workers feeling vulnerable.

Research shows that vulnerable workers make easy targets for workplace bullying; further, those with little or no autonomy, who work at the immediate direction of their boss, are most vulnerable. These workers are at high risk of emotional trauma, and over time, psychological injury.

Employers need to be aware that this basic concept is often the ‘missing value’ in the workplace and is the cause of underlying conflict and tension. We need to be reminded of the value of basic courtesy and respect, ‘good morning’s and ‘thank you’ go a long way to improving the culture of a workplace.

In the words of our own Tim Minchin, “Respect people with Less Power than You”:
“I have, in the past, made important decisions about people I work with – agents and producers – based largely on how they treat wait staff in restaurants. I don’t care if you’re the MOST powerful cat in the room – I will judge you on how you treat the LEAST powerful. So there.”

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