With bullying in the workplace attracting a lot of recent press attention due to the alleged activities inside Number 10 I thought a blog on the employment law implications may be of interest.
Employers are exposed to a variety of claims if steps are not taken to prevent or stop workplace bullying including unfair constructive dismissal, claims in terms of the discrimination legislation, a claim in terms of the protection from harassment legislation and stress related personal injury claims.
Practical tips for employers include:-
- adopt a zero tolerance attitude to bullying;
- have a well drafted equal opportunities and harassment policy and train staff and managers on the terms of the policy;
- ensure you organisational culture is such that bullying practices are not considered acceptable;
- deal with any allegations of bullying promptly and fairly;
- ensure that managers are trained to spot signs of bullying;
- ensure that disciplinary action is taken if bullying is believed to have taken place;
- ensure that your grievance procedure complies with the ACAS code and that employees are aware of how to invoke it;
- consider workplace mediation to deal with internal disputes and fallouts between employees;
- return to work interviews following periods of sickness and exit interviews, if used, can uncover instances of bullying;
- consider whether staff absence records suggest there is an underlying problem, such as bullying, which has led to poor attendance.
These are not the only techniques that can be adopted but they are some of the key ones. Adopting these practices will not guarantee that your organisation won't face a claim but it should certainly reduce the chances and put you in a much better position to defend any claim if raised.