Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Created and published by WorkPlace New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand, February 2014.


Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand license.



Workplace bullying is a significant hazard in New Zealand. It affects people physically and mentally, resulting in increased stress levels, decreased emotional well-being, reduced coping strategies and lower work performance.

Employers who don’t deal with it risk breaching the: Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA), Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act), Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA), Harassment Act 1997 (HA).


Its effects can reduce productivity and disrupt workplaces through: impaired performance, increased absence, low morale, more mistakes and accidents, loss of company reputation, resignations and difficulty recruiting, poor customer service and/or product quality.

Factors associated with workplace bullying include a lack of organisational strategies for managing psychosocial hazards including: ineffective leadership, low levels of resourcing, poor work organisation, poor human resources practices.

This guideline was developed by WorkSafe New Zealand (WorkSafe NZ) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to assist workplaces, employers and employees to address the issue of workplace bullying. It also aims to reduce the risk for employers and employees of failing to comply with the duties of the HSE Act and other relevant legislation.

This guidance shows how to: identify, assess and manage behaviors that cause distress to an individual or group (whether intended or not), stop the unreasonable behavior and reestablish healthy work relationships.

Six stakeholder focus groups facilitated by MBIE reinforced the need to include advice on how to develop positive and healthy workplaces. The guideline also includes several tools to help employees and employers improve their workplace culture and develop positive environments where bullying behavior can’t thrive.

The guideline is supported by a suite of online tools. For more information, refer to the Preventing and responding to bullying page at