Don’t dismiss the complaint
If someone approaches you about your behaviour, try to remain calm and avoid worsening what is likely to be an already difficult situation.
- Listen carefully to the person’s concerns.
- Apologise for causing offence and discuss how you might work together more effectively.
- Reflect on the information you’ve been provided and decide how you will react or modify your behaviour.
If you don’t understand the complaint, talk to your:
- manager or supervisor
- health and safety representative
- union representative.
Any discussion should be strictly confidential.
If you believe you’re being unjustly accused or the complaint is malicious, discuss this with your manager or human resources officer. It may be that an informal discussion between you, the person making the report, and a third party will solve the problem.
Stop doing anything that causes offence
If you’ve been made aware that your behaviour is considered unreasonable, think about what you’re doing and consider stopping or changing your behaviour.
If you’re found to have kept bullying someone after their objection to your behaviour was made known to you, the fact you persisted will make the offence more serious if disciplinary proceedings begin.
Understand your rights
It’s essential that people are protected against false and malicious accusations. People may be falsely accused of workplace bullying because of:
- a desire by others to harm them
- an over-reaction to a trivial or isolated incident.
Someone accused of bullying has the right to:
- be fully informed of the complaint
- be fully informed about the workplace’s complaint process
- reply in full to the complaint
- be considered innocent until proven guilty
- be represented by a person of their choice
- have confidentiality maintained
- be told of any rights of appeal.
If a person accused of bullying is denied these rights, then any formal action taken against them may be overturned if they appeal against it.
Our guide How to prevent and respond to workplace bullying (PDF, 1.1 MB) provides more detail about these steps.