Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Workplace bullying

3-minute read

Workplace bullying happens when a person behaves unreasonably and repeatedly towards a worker in the workplace, creating a risk to health and safety. Bullying can involve just one person or groups of people.

Workplace bullying can be physical or mental, and can include victimisation, humiliation, intimidation or threatening behaviour.

Bullying can take place in any workplace, including offices, shops, factories, cafes, restaurants, workshops, and within community and government organisations.

Anyone can be bullied, including casuals, temps, subcontractors, work experience students, interns, volunteers, permanent employees and managers. Bullies can be managers, bosses, or co-workers.

Examples of workplace bullying

Bullying at work is repeated, unreasonable behaviour and can include:

  • aggressive or intimidating behaviour
  • teasing or practical jokes
  • humiliating or belittling comments
  • sexual harassment
  • playing mind games
  • spreading hurtful rumours
  • initiation ceremonies
  • excluding someone from work-related events
  • unreasonable or pointless work demands
  • displaying offensive material
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately.

It’s important to understand, however, that even though sometimes things might seem unfair, they don't necessarily involve bullying. For example, your boss can sack you, transfer you, not promote you, discipline you, or direct and control the work that you carry out, as long as the decision is reasonable and the manager acts in a reasonable way.

What do I do if I’m bullied in the workplace?

If you're being bullied at work, there are things you can do to stop it. They include:

  • checking your workplace's policy on bullying and harassment
  • keeping written records
  • talking to people you trust, like friends or family
  • talking to the bully about their behaviour, if you feel safe doing this
  • reporting it to a manager, supervisor, HR officer, or union rep
  • contacting the Fair Work Commission
  • going to the police.

What are my rights?

All companies and organisations in Australia must make sure their workers are not exposed to health and safety risks in the workplace. This includes having systems in place to prevent and respond to workplace bullying.

There are also laws about discrimination in the workplace, and laws against sexual harassment. Violent behaviour, threatening behaviour, and stalking are also illegal.

Any worker who believes they are being bullied can apply to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying.

What can you expect from your workplace?

If you inform your workplace that you are experiencing bullying, your workplace should:

  • respond to you as quickly as possible
  • treat the report seriously
  • inform you of how they will deal with it
  • make sure everything is kept confidential
  • allow everyone to explain their version of events
  • not take sides
  • tell you about any support you can get
  • allow you to take someone else to meetings, like a friend or union rep
  • keep records of conversations, meetings and interviews
  • attempt to resolve things and let you know the outcome.

More information

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Learn more about workplace bullying at

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Workplace bullying

Bullying is a serious issue in workplaces across Australia and a risk factor for anxiety, depression and suicide.

Read more on beyondblue website

3 ways to deal with workplace bullying | ReachOut Australia

Here's everything you need to know about recording, reporting and resolving your workplace bullying situation.

Read more on website

Bullying information for employees

Bullying is a serious issue in workplaces across Australia and a risk factor for anxiety, depression and suicide.

Read more on beyondblue website

Tips to prevent bullying | Bystander | ReachOut Australia

How to stop bullying? Be it bullying at school or workplace, physical or cyber bullying. Find out some tips to stand up to bullying and to prevent it.

Read more on website

For small businesses

Your staff and your own mental health are crucial to your business. Ensure your workplace is a mentally healthy one for your staff and yourself.

Read more on beyondblue website

Tips for employees

Everyone has a role in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Here are some tips on what you can do as an employee.

Read more on beyondblue website

Office ergonomics: Managing mental health | HealthEngine Blog

Risks to psychological health at work may arise from organisational or personal factorssuch aspoor design of work and jobs, poor communication and interpersonal relationships, bullying or fatigue.

Read more on HealthEngine website

For employees

Look after yourself while at work and achieve a good work-life balance with these ideas, tailored to improving your mental health.

Read more on beyondblue website

Helping a workmate

There are lots things you can do to support a workmate who is going through a tough time.

Read more on beyondblue website

Workplace stress

Workplace stress is a major risk factor for anxiety and depression. Everyone can adopt a few strategies to manage and reduce their own stress levels.

Read more on beyondblue website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo