The rise of workplace bullying, unfair dismissal and general protections claims in the Fair Work Commission is not surprising considering the current economic and business climate.
Managers and supervisors understanding of what is reasonable management action undertaken in a reasonable way is essential – businesses and employers need to seriously and genuinely consider the nature of reasonable management action.
So… what is reasonable management action?
There is an express acknowledgement by the Fair Work Commission and the legislation that steps need to be taken to ensure a business runs effectively and productivity continues.
There must be some line of cause and effect between conduct, behaviour and performance of an employee with the relevant management action and that the management action taken is a reasonable and proportionate response.
Nine examples of reasonable management action include:
- Providing constructive feedback on performance
- Informing a worker about work that is unsatisfactory
- Letting an employee know about behaviour that is inappropriate workplace behaviour
- Allocating work to an employee and controlling and directing how it needs to be carried out
- Placing an employee on a performance improvement plan
- Modifying an employee’s duties
- Redeploying an employee
- Expecting employees to obtain workplace goals and maintain workplace standards
- Requesting an independent medical examination for an employee to assess whether they’re physically fit to fulfil the requirements of the role
It does not have to be perfect… case study of Toll Transport
The Tribunal and Courts have recognised that management action does not need to be perfect to be considered reasonable.
In the Fair Work Commission; stop workplace bullying case of Rohit  FWC 5881 (9 November 2020), the managers of Toll Transport had to defend action they took against an employee. Namely the following actions were deemed to be inappropriate:
- video footage of a car accident was reviewed in an open plan office setting where other workers could view the accident; and
- a manager inappropriately brought up the family situation of the employee by saying it would be “ok” if he didn’t see his wife for three days.
Although the instances were deemed inappropriate, the FWC did not constitute workplace bullying.
Akyra’s key takeaways
It is quite clear the FWC will give managers and supervisors scope in relation to reasonable action taken. However, embarrassing, belittling behaviour and a lack of adherence to procedural fairness and natural justice will be frowned upon and may be considered bullying behaviour.
It can also lead to claims in:
- Human rights complaints
- General protections claims
- Unfair dismissal claims
- Constructive dismissal
- Workplace health and safety breaches
- Workplace bullying
Training and education for managers managing people is absolutely essential.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Akyra can help your business to assist and support all your questions and concerns related to reasonable management action. Please contact Akyra on 07 3204 8830 or book a free 30-minute consultation for an obligation-free conversation.
Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.