The Gillard Government will invest $47.2 million to support Australia’s vulnerable workers, including $21.4 million to help Australians who have been bullied at work and $25.7 million to ensure Australian employers and employees have access to information about their rights and obligations.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said too many Australians have had their lives and careers ruined by workplace bullying.
“Bullying and division not only impact the individual but can make entire workplaces toxic, meaning a huge cost burden to business,” Mr Shorten said.
“The Productivity Commission has estimated the total cost of workplace bullying and the associated loss of productivity in Australia could be as high as $36 billion every year.
“This massive cost has to be reduced for the good of individual workers, for the good of business owners and for the good of our national economy.
“This is an investment in making Australia a stronger, smarter and fairer nation.
“The most productive and profitable workplaces are those where there is respect between workers and employers.”
The $21.4 million will enable the Fair Work Commission to implement the Government’s commitment to providing workers with a quick and effective way to resolve bullying at work and to prevent it happening again.
The Fair Work Commission will start dealing with bullying complaints from 1 July 2013, subject to the passage of the Fair Work Amendment Bill which implements Recommendation 23 of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment Inquiry report into workplace bullying.
The Committee found that the existing legal options for people who have been bullied are too complex and there is a need for a new process that allows individuals to take faster and more affordable action to end bullying.
The Government is also committing $25.7 million to ensure the Fair Work Ombudsman can continue to do its important work and make it easier for employers and employees to understand their rights and obligations at work, as employers and employees continue their transition into a truly national workplace relations system.
In the last financial year the Fair Work Ombudsman:
- finalised 28,412 complaints, recovering more than $39.8 million for almost 18,500 of those complaints;
- conducted over 772,400 responses to calls, web chat sessions, email and the post through the Fair Work Infoline;
- supported 26 large national enterprises, which together employ more than 118,960 people, to provide fairer, compliant workplaces;
- had 3.6 million visitors to its website, including over 1 million downloads of fact sheets, templates and best practice guides.
This year, there is a choice – between the Gillard Government supporting initiatives that help vulnerable workers, or Tony Abbott’s strategy of cutting to the bone.
This budget keeps our economy strong, makes the smart investments for our future and ensures Australian workers get a fair go.
We are investing for the future, putting jobs and economic growth first and protecting the important services that Australians rely on.
The Gillard Government is doing this to keep our economy one of the most resilient in the world – we have low unemployment, solid growth, contained inflation and low interest rates.