Bullying and Harassment Back in the News

It’s interesting to hear that this week that at Westminster the cases of sexual harassment and bullying have become so prevalent that a cross-party committee was set up to investigate what to do about it. Amazingly, MPs don't not currently have formal disciplinary procedures. Instead discipline is handled by their parties and there are no independent channels for staff to complain about their behaviour. Note that this is in the establishment that creates the laws the rest of us have to abide by.

One of the committee’s recommendations was that members of Parliament should undergo training to be able to understand what constitutes appropriate behaviour in the workplace. Should we be surprised by this?

Well on one hand we probably should as these are our lawmakers and knowing how to behave appropriately should be a ‘given’ for these people. But on the other hand, organisations tend to develop their own cultures, which are generally driven by behaviour from seniors. Employees will want to be seen to fit in and please their bosses and so often adopt their manager’s behaviour. Unfortunately, as appears to be the case at Westminster, if this behaviour is of an intimidating or aggressive manner it can easily lead to an organisational culture of bullying.

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees so if there are any employees who are being bullied or harassed, the employer is culpable if they cannot prove that they have taken steps to remove inappropriate behaviour from the workplace. Implementing relevant policies is a good start but we also recommend equal opportunity training for all staff as added protection for the business.  

An employee who resigns because they have been bullied has a potential constructive dismissal claim and if any discrimination is involved, Tribunal awards are unlimited. This makes the current wave in awareness of sexual harassment and with it the potential for sexual discrimination even more poignant for employers.

The Westminster committee’s recommendation to implement training for employees isn’t suggested to start until after the next general election but if you are interested in reviewing your own organisation’s Bullying and Harassment Policy, please get in touch much sooner.

We have policies, procedures and fact sheets available and we can deliver company-wide training that explains the cause and effects of bullying and harassing behaviour. Email info@hrchampions.co.uk or call us on 01452 331331.

09 February 2018, 13:25