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How to report bullying at work

How to report bullying at work

Unfortunately bullying at work is common, and it often has a lasting impact on the victim. This blog will explore how to report bullying at work and what measures could be taken to improve the situation:

 

1. Get professional advice

 

Being bullied is extremely distressing and stressful. It is likely to damage self-esteem and confidence. It is also common for victims of bullying to feel isolated and anxious. Obtaining professional advice at an early stage will provide clarity in terms of what rights exist and what next steps are available.

For example, the term bullying is often used to refer to a variety of circumstances involving unacceptable behaviour, but what does that mean? For example, is the bullying a line manager imposing unreasonable deadlines, a colleague making remarks related to a protected characteristic such as disability. or is the bully behaving in a discriminatory way? Whatever the situation it is important that incidents are captured fully so that appropriate action can be taken to resolve it.

Gaining professional advice can be helpful in a number of ways, such as providing assistance with drafting a grievance or advising on the merits of a potential Employment Tribunal claim.

It is important to remember that there are strict time limits apply to Employment Tribunal claims. These time limits typically apply from when the events complained of occurred, and the deadlines may well not be extended as a result of initiating a grievance or appeal. In such circumstances, it is important to find out what the applicable deadlines would be so that any claims are brought in time.

2. Keep records

 

As said above, being bullied is extremely distressing. As a consequence of this distress, it is easy for recollections to become blurred, particularly when the victim is trying hard to block it out and carry on as normal.

Common issues include not remembering precisely what days things happened on, or not being able to recall exactly what was said by whom. Keeping a record of what was said or done when and by whom ensures that recollections remain accurate and that nothing is missed. Such material is of great value when making a grievance as it will mean that setting out events is a straightforward task. Being sure of who said what and when is also likely to help the person who has responsibility for the grievance because, for example, enquiries can be focused on what occurred on those specific days including gaining documentation that covered the relevant period of time.

In addition, keeping a record of incidents at the time they occur potentially increases credibility in terms of what is being said, compared with others who have not taken such steps, because time has not dimmed the memory and therefore there are not any gaps or inconsistencies which cannot be explained.

Similarly, keeping such notes is also of help to an advisor if the person did wish to pursue an Employment Tribunal claim. As well as providing an insight into the nature of the incidents and the frequency with which they occurred, the records would also help to confirm precise timeframes which is helpful when considering applicable time limits for the potential claim.

3. Lodge a grievance

 

A grievance procedure is likely to vary depending on the size of the employer, the resources available to it and the industry or environment that it operates within.  Despite these differences, a grievance is essentially a way for an employee to express to their employer dissatisfaction about something connected to their employment. Therefore, the circumstances in which a grievance can be used is broad.

An employer is likely to have a written policy which explains the information that is needed to begin the grievance process and, who the information should be communicated to. In addition, the policy should explain the stages in the process.

In some situations, it may be possible to resolve the situation by informing the person responsible for the bullying that their actions are unacceptable. However, this ‘informal’ action, which is often the first stage of a grievance, is unlikely to be appropriate in some circumstances, such as where discrimination or harassment is alleged.

The grievance should be sufficiently detailed to enable an employer to understand what the grievance is about. However, an employer may well choose to have a meeting with the person bringing the grievance at an early stage to better understand what happened.

There would  then be an investigation and the outcome of that would determine next steps.

It is common for employees who are being bullied to believe that a grievance will not change anything. It is true that the grievance might not, but that possibility should not deter employees from lodging a grievance.

Grievance procedures are there to bring such issues to the attention of the employer and to give the organisation the opportunity to resolve the situation. At the very least, going through a grievance process indicates that the employee has exhausted all internal options.

4. Appeal the decision if your grievances are not upheld

 

Grievance procedures will typically provide an opportunity to appeal. This option should be taken up. The appeal should, where possible, have a different decision maker (not the person who heard the grievance) and that person should have the authority to reverse the outcome of the grievance (if the person hearing the appeal reaches a different conclusion to the person who had responsibility for the grievance). That said, it is always important to be aware of the time limits that apply in relation to a potential Employment Tribunal.

 

5. Consider next steps

 

It is common for people who are experiencing bullying at work to feel that there are no options available to them apart from the internal processes such as the grievance process referred to above. That is not so. Depending on the circumstances, there may be grounds for an Employment Tribunal claim.

Plotkin & Chandler works exclusively in the areas of HR and employment law.

If you are an employee and would like advice on lodging a grievance, or you believe that you have been treated unfairly, we can help. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you would like to discuss bringing a harassment claim or you believe that you have been dismissed unfairly please get in touch.

If you are an employer, we have expertise in how to effectively tackle bullying in the workplace, and how to manage the grievance process. Whether you would like  HR consultancy where we would undertake tasks on behalf of your organisation, or you would like HR training to better understand a particular topic, we can support you. In addition to our HR services, we also have expertise in defending an Employment Tribunal claim such as discrimination and harassment.

For a free consultation, to discuss your needs and the ways in which we can help, call us on 020 3923 8616 or email us at info@plotkinandchandler.com

 

 

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