ARE YOU DEALING WITH WORKPLACE BULLYING AND HARASSMENT EFFECTIVELY?
Updated: Sep 28
With more harassment scandals hitting the media in the UK, we take a look at the increase in reports of a “toxic workplace culture” and the steps employers can take to identify, resolve and prevent incidents of bullying and harassment.
In the absence of a specific legal definition of bullying, some organisations struggle to identify or understand the types of conduct or behaviours which would amount to workplace bullying. As a starting point, an organisation should be able to define what it considers is bullying and what is prohibited in its business. Harassment is defined as unwanted behaviour directed at an individual because of their protected characteristic such as race, sex or disability and if the behaviour violates an individual’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. This legal definition gives employers something more to work with.
Bullying and harassment can take place as an isolated incident or a regular pattern of behaviour by one or multiple individuals. It may be by physical or verbal means but as technology is rapidly evolving and more people are working remotely, it may also happen outside the physical workplace in different forms. For example, sending intimidating or demeaning emails, posting humiliating, offensive and threatening comments/photos on social media or deliberately giving an individual a heavier workload.
If an organisation fails to monitor and address bullying and harassment in its workforce, it may face a number of risks including claims being brought against it and even colleagues in the Employment Tribunal.
To combat and limit your risks as an employer, the following steps are fundamental to being able to strongly rebut any legal challenge:
1. Communicating that the organisation has a zero tolerance to bullying and harassment, the standard of behaviour expected and how employees can raise concerns.
2. Implementing effective policies and procedures that deal with the organisation’s commitment to dealing with bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace. These policies include an Anti-Harassment and Anti-Bullying Policy and Equal Opportunities Policy.
3. Training which should be carried out regularly and for all staff to ensure a team-wide understanding of the organisation’s expectations and processes when dealing with bullying and harassment.
4. Dealing with complaints in a timely and effective way. All organisations should have a Grievance Procedure in place to deal with any staff complaints of bullying and harassment.
In general, an organisation will want to demonstrate that it and its people are taking a proactive approach to ensure all its staff are treated equally and with respect. By applying the keys steps identified above, any potential reputational damage and/or financial risk can be managed and reduced.
At FG Solicitors, we have the expertise to enable you to create and implement strategies and policies which promote best practice in preventing bullying and harassment and advancing a culture based on respect and dignity.
To find out more about how we can assist your business in managing workplace bullying and harassment please contact us today on 0808 172 93 22 or complete our quick contact form for a no obligation discussion.
This update is for general guidance only and advice should be taken in relation to a particular set of circumstances.
For more of our legal updates and articles follow us on LinkedIn.