Anti-Bullying and Harassment Week 2017. Dealing with Workplace Bullies
In all walks of life, there is the potential to be exposed to bullying. Take sharks, for instance, who are colloquially characterised as the “bullies of the sea.” Although bullying is unacceptable anywhere, it is especially insidious in the workplace.
This week marks Anti-Bullying and Harassment Week.
The Workplace Employment Relations Survey 1998 reported that three per cent of workplaces (with 10 or more employees) had experienced at least one grievance relating to bullying and harassment in the previous year.
What is Bullying and Harassment?
Each case must be considered on their own merit. However, for practical purposes, bullying and harassment can be defined as unwelcome, unwarranted behaviour which causes a determinate effect to a person’s well-being.
How do I Recognise Bullying and Harassment?
They are reflected in offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic- age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation - which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.
Examples of Bullying and Harassment
- spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone
- exclusion or victimisation
- unfair treatment
- deliberately undermining a competent worker by constant criticism.
Employer’s Duty of Care
Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to all their employees. If the mutual trust and confidence between employer and employee is breached through bullying and harassment at work, then an employee can resign and claim ‘constructive dismissal’ on the grounds of breach of contract. Employers are vicariously liable for the acts of their workers during their course of employment.
Preventing Bullying in Work Place
As bullying and harassment increases in our workplaces in Britain, the solution appears to be a zero tolerance approach reflected in policies and adopted through all workplaces in Britain as the benchmark to prevent bullying and harassment.
- For employers, we can prepare formal Anti-Bullying and Harassment policy documents, and can draw up, review and amend your Staff Handbook to ensure it is up to date with the current legislation, including the insertion of zero tolerance clauses to seek to prevent bullying and harassment in the work place.
- For employees, if you have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace, we can assist you by providing tailored advice from our specialist solicitors.
Please contact the Chattertons Employment Law Team for advice on dealing with bullying and harassment issues, or any other employment related concerns.