Why workplace bullying is a serious business risk

Published: 21/08/2019

Why workplace bullying is a serious business risk

Recent research shows that claims relating to bullying or harassment cost Australian organisations up to $36 billion¹ a year through lost productivity, increased absenteeism, poor morale and time spent documenting or defending a claim.

According to Safe Work Australia, the median cost for accepted bullying and/or harassment claims is approximately $27,153² but some claims can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What constitutes workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying is reflective of a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others causing either physical or emotional harm, typically through humiliation, verbal or physical means³.

Examples of bullying include:

  • behaving aggressively
  • teasing or practical jokes
  • pressuring someone to behave inappropriately
  • excluding someone from work-related events or
  • unreasonable work demands.

Who is liable for a workplace bullying claim?

Managers and/or business directors can be found legally liable if an employee makes a claim for bullying or harassment in the workplace. Even if the claim is vexatious, unwarranted and untrue, the claim will have to be fought and the costs can be substantial.

In addition, if you are found accountable for such claims, you could face prosecution by the Fair Work Commission.

How Management Liability Insurance can help

Management Liability Insurance is one solution designed to help protect the personal assets of company directors, managers and officers against potentially large and unexpected liability claims regarding the management, governance or compliance of the business.

Workplace bullying is typically covered by such a policy and will usually cover damages and claimant costs awarded against you, legal and investigation costs, civil fines and penalties and representation costs where you are legally required to attend an inquiry or investigation.

Contact Coverforce

Our experienced brokers at Coverforce understand the exposures faced by directors, officers, managers and business entities. That's why you can depend on us to provide quality, competitively priced insurance cover that won't let you down should you need to make a claim.

Contact your local Coverforce office to find out more about how we can help.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact Coverforce directly.


  1. https://www.headsup.org.au/supporting-others/workplace-bullying

  2. Safe Work Australia - Psychological Health and Safety and Bullying in Australian Workplaces: Indicators from accepted workers compensation claims, Annual Statement, 4th Edition, 2017.

  3. https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-and-harassment#protections

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