Workplace bullying and reasonable management action

Applications for orders to stop workplace bullying heard by the Fair Work Commission often focus on what is meant by the expression “reasonable management action. What does that mean? This extract from just such a case provides some of the answers.

“I have taken into account the comments of Commissioner Hampton in Ms SB,  [2014] FWC 2104. where he said:

“[51] The test is whether the management action was reasonable, not whether it could have been undertaken in a manner that was ‘more reasonable’ or ‘more acceptable’. In general terms this is likely to mean that:

  • management actions do not need to be perfect or ideal to be considered reasonable;
  • a course of action may still be ‘reasonable action’ even if particular steps are not;
  • to be considered reasonable, the action must also be lawful and not be ‘irrational, absurd or ridiculous’;
  • any ‘unreasonableness’ must arise from the actual management action in question, rather than the applicant’s perception of it; and
  • consideration may be given as to whether the management action involved a significant departure from established policies or procedures, and if so, whether the departure was reasonable in the circumstances.”

Wang v Lin, Darwin International Hotels Pty Ltd (2022) FWC 2063 delivered 26 September 2022 per Riordan C