CASUAL workers are succumbing to bullying because they are afraid if they speak up, they will lose their job. A pilot study of the hospitality industry by University of NSW Business School finds workers who have insecure, casual employment are under greater pressure than permanent employees because they need to keep their shifts.

Dr Lindsay McMillan, lead researcher at human resources think tank Reventure, says workplace bullying is a major concern, as one in 10 workers in 2016 experienced verbal abuse or bullying.

“Bullying has a devastating effect on the mental health of victims, especially if their claims are being dismissed by senior management,” he says. “However, this new study has found that many casual employees are not even getting to the point of telling their managers.”

He says it is the responsibility of business leaders to create healthy workplace cultures and to not treat casual workers as second-class citizens.

“The casualisation of the workforce means more people have less job security, and that makes people afraid of making mistakes or stepping out of line, because they feel expendable,” he says.

“Regardless of what contract an employee has with an organisation, they need to be afforded an opportunity to have a meaningful and purposeful experience at work.”

In 2012, the cost of workplace bullying to the economy was estimated as being up to $36 billion a year.