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Can a manager requesting an employee to do something illegal be considered bullying?

Q: If an employee’s manager asks them to do something that is illegal (such as deleting certain records and not reporting these) would this be considered a form of bullying?

A: Workplace bullying is defined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) as repeated unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to health and safety. The behaviour may be from an individual or group directed towards a worker or group of workers.

In your case, if the manager’s behaviour forms part of a pattern of behaviour directed at an employee, it is possible that it could constitute bullying. However, if it is an isolated incident, it will not satisfy the definition of bullying.

It seems more likely that this behaviour constitutes employee misconduct and may be a disciplinary matter.

We recommend reading through the Health & Safety Handbook chapter B1 Bullying for further information.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Bullying for current advice.

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