‘Bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010’ – Gov.uk, 2017.
What form can bullying and harassment take? This list is not conclusive.
- Denying training or promotion opportunities
- Picking on an individual
- Undermining a competent worker
- Starting malicious rumours or spreading these rumours
Bullying in the workplace does not just happen face to face, like all forms of bullying it can happen by letter, email, telephone and also social media.
Bullying is typically paired with children and playgrounds, but it occurs all our lives. Sometimes we are the bully and sometimes we are the victim, many people do not even realise they are the bully or the victim.
Bullying is frowned upon but not illegal in the workplace, Harassment on the other hand is illegal. Harassment is when an individual is being bullied in relation to one of the nine protected characteristics:
- Gender (including gender reassignment)
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
ACAS has revealed that bullying in the workplace is costing employers £18bn per year, it is likely that employers will have to tackle an issue of this nature at some point when employing people.
Significance of bullying and harassment
Resignations, loss of respect, diminished morale, lost productivity are all problems that bullying can cause. Bullying can also damage the reputation of an employer.
There are also legal implications that employers need to be aware of. While a claim regarding bullying is not possible, it is possible for an employee to make claims on the grounds of whistle-blowing, personal injury, negligence, harassment and discrimination, unfair (constructive) dismissal, and also claims under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This list is not definitive.
Preventing bullying and harassment
It would be irresponsible of us to say that bullying and harassment can be eradicated completely, however steps can be made to minimise the risk of bullying and harassment in the workplace.
Train your managers. Can your managers recognise bullying in the workplace? Or are they subconsciously the bully? Train them and yourself to notice and deal with any situations that may escalate.
Fair procedures. Listen to your employees. If they have a complaint, complete an investigation.
Equal Opportunities and Dignity at Work Policies. These are important policies to have in place as they ensure that there are guidelines in place for managers and employees.
Lead by example. Be the best employer you can be, set the standard and create a culture you would like to work in yourself.
What can AHR Consultants do to help you?
Training – We can train your managers. Equality and discrimination is a popular course that teaches managers the risks of bullying and harassment, and how to identify and tackle these situations. Other courses include investigations and disciplinary. See our course brochure.
Investigations – Do you need an investigation undertaken due to a complaint? AHR Consultants can be instructed to run an investigation plus much more. See our range of consultancy services.
Policies – We can update policies, create policies and provide you with constant compliant protection. We can update your policies or create your policies, and these will be compliant at the time of writing. Retainer services offer constant compliance and regular updating at no additional cost. Find out more.
Advice – Not sure if something you said or did is correct? Do you want some advice on what steps you should make going forward? AHR Consultants offer unlimited telephone advice to clients. Find out more.
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