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A Guide to managing bullying at work

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced bullying will know that the impact can be devastating. Where that treatment takes place in the workplace, the employer becomes responsible for addressing it to ensure they provide a safe working environment, free from unacceptable behaviour.

There is no employment tribunal claim that may be pursued for bullying, but a failure to address unwanted behaviour could leave the employer liable for a claim for constructive unfair dismissal if the employee resigns in response. Equally, if the treatment relates to a protected characteristic, they could have to defend claims for harassment and discrimination.

What should your employer do?

An employer must take reasonable steps to avoid and prevent bullying behaviour. The best way to manage this is through intervention, training and communication. Having a clear policy in place which sets out the boundaries for interaction and behaviour and harnessing a culture of tolerance, dignity and respect is crucial. Taking disciplinary action in response to allegations of bullying may also be necessary.

Where a grievance is raised alleging behaviour which contradicts these values, there is an obligation on the employer to investigate and respond. Doing nothing will almost certainly leave an employer exposed to unhappy staff, retention problems and litigation.

If you have been involved in bullying at work or have an employee who has raised issues we can help advise on the best way the law can help in dealing with this. You can contact one of our specialist Employment Solicitors on 0808 252 5231 or request that someone calls you back online.