Partner Andrew Bryan offers guidance to both employers and employees on bullying and harassment in the workplace. Andrew states that any unwanted behaviour that makes a person feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated, or offended can be classified as bullying or harassment. Such behaviour is not necessarily always obvious or apparent to others and may happen in the workplace without the employer being aware.
The bullying or harassment behaviour may be between two individuals or it may involve groups of people. It might be obvious or it might be insidious. It may be persistent on an isolated incident. It can also occur in written communications, by phone or through email and is not restricted to face-to-face confrontation.
Examples of bullying and harassment behaviour could include;
- spreading malicious rumours or insulting someone
- exclusion or victimisation
- unfair treatment
- deliberately undermining a competent worker by constant criticism
Harassment is defined under the Equality Act 2010 as conduct relating to one of the following: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation and such behaviour is therefore unlawful.
People do not always feel able or confident enough to complain, particularly if the harasser is a manager or senior member of staff. Often they consider it easier to simply resign. It is important for employers to ensure that staff are aware of options available to them to deal with potential bullying or harassment and any such conversations remain confidential.
As an employer it is important to take appropriate action as bullying and harassment can create an unhappy and unproductive workplace resulting in;
- poor morale and poor employee relations
- decreased employee wellbeing
- loss of respect for managers or supervisors
- poor performance and loss of productivity
- absence or resignations
- tribunal and other court cases and payment of unlimited compensation.
If you consider that you are being bullied or harassed you should report it at the earliest possible opportunity. Whilst it is always best to try and resolve this informally in the first instance, there are a number of options to consider:
- see someone who you feel comfortable with to discuss your problems
- talk to a trade union or staff representative
- keep a diary of all instance records dates times witnesses etc
- keep any relevant letters emails notes etc
If you have any concerns that you would like to discuss in confidence, please contact Andrew on 02390 820747 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org