The early days of allowing anti-bullying complaints to be taken to the national workplace tribunal have failed to produce the flood of claims feared by employers and the Abbott government.
The Fair Work Commission revealed on Wednesday that it received just 44 applications during the first month of its new anti-bullying jurisdiction, and six were later withdrawn.
Since January 1, changes to the law under the former Labor government have allowed the Commission to make orders to stop bullying at work.
Each case is assessed and can proceed to mediation or conciliation but the tribunal cannot promote or recommend monetary settlements.
Fair Work president Iain Ross said it was too early to say whether the figures were indicative of the likely number of applications the Commission would receive throughout the year.
“January and February traditionally see a smaller number of lodgements with the Commission, particularly in relation to other individual-based rights disputes such as unfair dismissals and general protections,” Justice Ross said.
“The time of year and the fact that this is a new jurisdiction means that the number of applications received to date is not necessarily indicative of the lodgement trends we will see in future.
“We expect there to be some fluctuation in the number of applications received. We will be monitoring the numbers closely, and will provide quarterly reports on our website.”
While the number of cases was modest, the Commission had about 28,000 unique hits on its website seeking information.
The Commission has to deal with all applications within 14 days and some already have been dealt with, although no detail was given on the outcomes.
Last year, Fair Work general manager Bernadette O’Neill told a parliamentary committee that an estimated 2500 applications could be received by the Commission in the first year of the anti-bullying jurisdiction.