Bullying in the workplace can cover a vast range of topics and have a substantial effect on your staff and your business. Here you will find some of the topics covered on this page with useful information and advice.
Welcome to the National Bullying Helpline page for employers. We specialise in the important area of employee relations. In particular we address Bullying at Work and conflict resolution issues. Whatever your need in the arena of employee advice, relations or dispute resolution, we can help.
No one said managing employees would be easy. It can be a daunting task. 80% of managers know that bullying occurs in their workplace and despite this, 37% say they have had no proper training. If you are a Supervisor, team leader, line manager or Director and you have responsibility for managing staffing issues, you will find guidelines, tips, recommendations and solutions here.
Whatever your need in the arena of employee relations or dispute resolution, we can help. We can give specialist help and advice in all areas of staffing issues. Opposite is a list of topics covered on this page. If you require more help and advice on any issues not listed, please don't hesitate to call us.
In their advice leaflet for employees ACAS give the following definitions of harassment, taken from The Harassment Act. Harassment, in general terms, is unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of men and women in the workplace. It may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or any personal characteristic of the individual, and may be persistent or an isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient.'
'Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. These words were fundamentally taken from a Guide for Employers written by the Founder of The National Bullying Helpline in 1998. She was the first person to speak publicly about the negative impact of workplace bullying on the bottom line.
The legal definition of harassment also requires the behaviour to have 'the purpose or effect of violating people's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.'
Under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, employers are vicariously liable for harassment caused by the acts of two or more employees, provided the conduct is linked. See (Dawson v Chief Constable of Northcumbria Police. Case ref: 209 EWHC 907 QB).
An Employer who Suspends an employee (whatever their level) and then makes an internal announcement, informs customers or makes a statement to the media detailing their concerns and the reason for the Suspension runs a significant risk of the following;
Case Law: RDF Media Limited v Clements (2007) EWHC 2892. If you have any conserns or would like some advice, please give us a call
What are the risks
A claim for Constructive Unfair Dismissal based on their breach of confidentiality
A claim for releasing negative statement which means they have already made their mind up before a fair hearing/process takes place
A claim for prima facie breach of trust and confidence and a ‘fundamental breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence that goes to the heart of the employment contract’
Compensation for unfair dismissal may be as high as £66,000 per person and this does not include the cost of a redundancy payment.
Redundancy is a form of dismissal and reasons include; the business is closing down or moving, there is a need to cut costs and so staff numbers need to be reduced, the job you were employed to do no longer exists or technology or new system ns has made your job unnecessary.
It can still be a genuine redundancy if someone else's job disappears and they are moved into your job, making you redundant. This is known as 'bumping' but can be difficult for an employer to justify as fair.
In a redundancy situation certain processes should be followed; a) the selection criteria should be fair, open and transparent, b) employees should be consulted, c) employees should receive redundancy pay, d) employees should be given proper notice, and finally e) organisation should consider alternatives to redundancy.
Tackling workplace bullying and harassment is a joint responsibility of the organisation and individuals working within it. The employer’s first responsibility is to put in place a robust and well communicated policy that clearly articulates the organisation’s commitment to promoting dignity and respect at work.
Individuals (including bystanders) also have a responsibility to behave in ways which support a non-hostile working environment for themselves and their colleagues.
They should play their part in making the organisation’s policy a reality and be prepared to challenge inappropriate behaviour and take action if they observe or have evidence that someone is being harassed. Individuals can be personally liable to pay compensation and can be prosecuted under criminal as well as civil law.
80% of Employers struggle with absence issues and absence, due to stress, is costing the UK economy £13.4 billion.
We appreciate that the UK economy goes through a recession from time to time. This impacts on SME's and most employers. It is only natural therefore that employers will be looking to make cut-backs at times such as these – and this is where high absence and stress commonly occurs. Below are some tips before you make changes that have Contractual implications. But if things become dire, seek voluntary redundancies before embarking on a heavy handed downsizing exercise.
Business Owners, Line Managers, Heads of Department, Team Leaders, Supervisors – and all those Responsible for Managing Staff.
There is an ‘implied term’ in every employment contracts that the employer shall render reasonable support to an employee to ensure that the employee can carry out the duties of his job without harassment and disruption by fellow workers. This was exampled in the Case of Wigan Borough Council v Davies 1979 ICR 411 and quoted with approval by the House of Lords in Waters v Commissioner of Metropolitan Police 2000 ICR 1064, HL.
Simply, an employer has a Duty of Care to provide a safe and stress-free place of work for all employees. Sometimes, that can be a difficult ask. If you have a problematic employee situation and would like to seek expert, FREE, advice, call us today. Our associates specialise in Workplace Investigations and Settlement Agreements. Importantly, we also provide assistance with Workplace Investigations and Settlement Agreements. We have written articles and management guides on the above subjects.
We work with Award Winning Conflict Resolution organisations and skilled expert leaders in the field of employee relations. All our advisers are all qualified leaders in HR and Employment Law. We insist that they are CIPD qualified, have Indemnity Insurance and are registered with the ICO. (Data Commissioner) – in order to ensure your organisation is protected in those areas.
Grievance, Disciplinary, cultural bullying or teams of employees colluding and creating both divide and risk to the organisation.
Performance management can be a daunting task. A high percentage of employees calling our helpline allege that their line manager is not following performance management policies or lacks basis skills in this area. Employee’s will lash out if they do not have the ability to accept constructive criticism.
Appraisals, if not carried out sensitively and carefully, can cause ‘fall out’ and / or permanent damage to a manager / subordinate relationship. From that point on it is difficult to regain trust and get relations back on track. Call us if you fear repercussion, as a manager, at Appraisal time or when dealing with conduct issues.
In cases of Grievance or Disciplinary regarding Conduct or Capability, consider calling in an independent expert consultant to conduct a confidential, impartial, workplace investigation. We can recommend organisations and provide expertise in this complex area of employee relations.
We work with expert, qualified, HR Consultants. Our team have been working in this arena for over 15 years and are published on various Management forums as exert advisers on the do’s and don’ts of conducting Workplace (Grievance and Disciplinary) Investigations. Much of our work has been in the NHS and Public Sector. We are also well published and nationally recognised, having been featured in articles by; The Institute of Leadership and Management, Woman’s Own magazine, Personnel Today, People Management and other UK management guides.
One aspect of Bullying in the Workplace which is often overlooked is the effect it has on the rest of the company. The reality is that if bullying is left unchecked it quickly escalates and staff are left feeling intimidated and de-motivated. Feelings of hostility, intimidation and collusive exclusion become common place and high absence and turnover of staff impacts on the organisations bottom line.
Employers who turn a blind eye to a bullying culture will lose staff, business and reputation. Increasingly, staff will collude against a co-worker or management and this behaviour is both abhorrent and unlawful. Employers are required to take immediate action in this scenario.
Workplace disputes are an ever-present challenge for employers. If disputes are not resolved quickly and effectively, an employer could find themselves party to costly, stressful and unnecessary employment litigation. If a case is not managed correctly, it can cost the employer dearly. In some cases, we have known business to go ‘out of business’.
Government are increasingly encouraging employers to resolve disputes through the use of a mutually agreeable settlement agreements, in order to reduce the number of cases referred to an Employment Tribunal. This is good business sense. It reduces legal costs and risk to the business too and the parties can shake hands and part company amicably.
Settlement Agreements (formerly known as Compromise Agreements) are mutually agreed before signing off. The Settlement Agreement documentation is a legally binding contract which can be used to end an employment relationship.
Under the terms of a typical settlement agreement the employee receives a severance payment (often tax free up to £30,000) and very often an agreed job reference plus any other outstanding monies – all in return for waiving their right to take a case to an employment tribunal on any grounds covered by the settlement agreement.
Stress can prove a major headache for firms, leading to misunderstandings and getting in the way of productivity. Here we advise employers how to reduce stress in the workplace. Nobody’s perfect, we all have too much pressure from time to time, and stress can affect anyone given an accumulation of circumstances...
The suspension of an employee can cause irretrievable damage to the employment relationship which often goes to the very heart of the employment contract itself. It can be extremely difficult to recover fully. So, do not suspend an employee without first considering matters very carefully.
Even though most in-house policies, and the Suspend letter itself might state that the act of Suspension is ‘neutral’ and not indicative of a disciplinary outcome, it still hurts! An employee will feel aggrieved. Suspending an employee for a perceived act of wrongdoing or for gross-misconduct is a big step to take. Very often a decision to suspend is made before an investigation takes place.
Dismissing staff is never easy. It is a daunting task for the most experienced manager or HR professional. For some organisations this is a very worrying time as delivering bad news - whether it is as part of a dismissal process, a redundancy programme or simply because of a recession, can be a complex and highly legal matter for employers.
Before you start, ensure your policies and procedures are open and transparent and are communicated to all staff. If you are in the unfortunate position of having to deliver bad news, call us first. We may be able to ‘take the heat out of the situation' and give you some peace of mind as we guide you through the process ahead. We can help ensure you follow a fair, open and transparent process – reducing the risk of future, unnecessary, costly, employment litigation.
If morale is low within your department or company, or if you are accused of being an organisation that condones bullying, we can refer you to experts who can help. We work closely with a team of experienced investigators and mediators. We work with a number of HR organisation's and qualified HR experts who specialise in providing independent investigation services.
The referral process is open and transparent and you can place the business with a company or individual of your choice.
No one said managing staff would be easy. It can be a daunting task for the most experienced leader. If you are concerned about the conduct of an individual, or an entire team, investigate. Any allegation of harassment, bullying or any form of intimidating behaviour should be treated as a disciplinary offence. Investigation procedures should provide;
We will help you to address cost/risk issues and reduce the risk of employment tribunals.
Incremental ideas with minimal impact on other departments can allow you
to trim up to 10% of costs
Harvard Business Review
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