0333 212 3877

News

Home » News » Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Bullying and harassment remain significant workplace issues despite increasing awareness of the problem. It is vital that organisations have robust policies and procedures in place to tackle any issues that arise as this type of behaviour is not only unacceptable on moral grounds but may, if unchecked or badly handled, create serious problems such as:

• Poor morale and poor employee relations
• Loss of respect for management
• Poor performance
• Lost productivity
• Absence
• Resignations
• Reputational damage
• Employment Tribunal claims

Further, if the bullying and/or harassment is in connection with one of the protective characteristics contained in the Equality Act 2010 then this could also amount to discrimination.

What is Bullying and Harassment?
Bullying and harassment can often be hard to recognise as it may not be obvious to others and may be insidious. The recipient may think ‘perhaps this is normal behaviour in this Company’, they may be anxious that others will consider them weak, or not up to the job if they find the actions of others intimidating. They may be accused of ‘overreacting’ and worry that they won’t be believed if they do report incidents. This is not the case as all employees are entitled to work in a safe working environment free from bullying and harassment.

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean in the position of authority but can include personal strength power through fear and intimidation. Bullying can take the form of physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct.
Harassment is unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct which has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. This could include a single incident or continuation of incidents over an extended period of time.

The EHRC Employment Code advises that the word "unwanted" means the same essentially as "unwelcome" or "uninvited" and it does not mean that express objection is made to the conduct before it is deemed to be unwanted. The EHRC guidance on harassment gives the following examples of unwanted conduct:

• Spoken words
• Banter, even if everyone joined in as this could be a coping strategy
• Written words
• Posts or contact on social media
• Imagery
• Graffiti
• Physical gestures
• Facial expressions
• Mimicry
• Jokes or pranks
• Acts affecting a person’s surroundings
• Aggression
• Physical behaviour towards a person or their property

It is important to note that a one-off incident can constitute harassment and that some conduct must be presumed to be unwanted unless proved otherwise.

What Should Employers Do?
All employees have the right to work in a safe working environment, which includes protecting employees from unlawful discrimination, bullying and harassment. Therefore, employers should introduce policies and procedures that show their commitment to the provision of equal opportunities in employment and dignity at work. Employers also need to set clear expectations of behaviour and have procedures in place to deal with any complaints of bullying and/or harassment so that if there are any issues then these can be dealt with before they escalate into a serious problem.

Further, there are several measures that an Employer could take such as:

•Provide regular training on equal opportunities and dignity at work to embed the message with all employees.
•Carrying out regular 121 meetings and staff surveys to understand if there are any issues that have not been addressed.
•Introduce an open-door policy for employees to raise any issues without fear of repercussions.
•Introduce a reporting system to allow employees to report issues that they have either encountered of witnessed.
•When dealing with a harassment complaint you need to act immediately to try to resolve the complaint taking into account how the worker wants it to be resolved. It is important to always communicate the outcome of the complaint to the complainant in a timely manner.

These measures will ensure that all employees are aware of the expectations of their behaviour whilst at work or on work events and it will also make employees who are suffering from bullying and/or harassment feel more comfortable in raising the issues instead of suffering in silence and potentially leaving the Company.

I had the mis fortune to need Legal advice over an employment issue right at the start of the Covid 19 outbreak/lock down period. I had previously heard of JJL though an event that they run annually so thought why not give them a go. The service I received was excellent the whole team were attentive and explained all of the legal details in plain English. Within a week or so my issue was resolved successfully which given the current state of the country I was super impressed with. I would have no hesitation in recommending their services to anyone in need of legal advice.

I have been working with Joseph James Law for over a year now and have found each member of the team I have worked with highly knowledgeable and extremely professional. I have worked with Katarzyna for the most part and she has been very supportive, the communication between us has always been clear and timely especially when dealing with some highly sensitive issues.

ML Group

Thank you for your friendly & professional service. You have been instrumental in keeping our mind at peace with employment matters, helping us with comprehensive employment handbook as well as best practices. We value your guidance on case-2-case basis and trust you as you have our interests at heart.

Thank you for your help in this matter as I have no doubt we would not have managed it on our own.

Mrs C Steventon

Thank you so much to JJL for helping me through a really tough time with my employer. Without their time and legal expertise I am not sure what I would have done. They made calculated and rational decisions that assisted me get the best possible outcome.

Mrs H

Andrew and his Employment team made themselves available during times most people would consider after hours and the patience they had along with the time they took to explain the details of the case were truly above and beyond what was expected. Andrew did everything in his power to ensure the pro...

John F

My family and I were in need of professional legal advice regarding our late mother, Andrew Settle of JJL was professional, courteous and extremely understanding , which at the time was extremely helpful.

Trevor Price

As a relatively new commercial client of JJL solicitors we have been delighted by the results that they have achieved in a short space of time. They made the set up and process of transferring our debt recovery clients simple, straightforward and hassle free.

Mrs Brice

Fantastic service, I would highly recommend and would definitely use again if needed. Friendly staff, very fast response to any queries via email or phone and great advice and support was given throughout the process. Help was provided every step of the way. Nothing was too much trouble. I got the ...

Victoria D
< >