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Bullying & its Effects on the Workforce

Bullying in the workplace can be a constant cause of stress and apprehension, which can damage an individual worker’s health both psychologically and physically. The victim often suffers migraines, high blood pressure, insomnia, ulcers, and a variety of additional psychologically issues or conditions. Constant exposure to bullying and its effects can prove detrimental in an otherwise productive and efficient workforce.

The employer who ignores or neglects bullying will often suffer downturns in productivity, as well as profitability because of:

  • a lack of motivation in their workers, even those not directly involved
  • reduced morale
  • reduced quality and quantity of production
  • increased resignations of experienced and trained individuals
  • a rise in sick days, absentees, and time lost to stress & poor health
  • penalties and compensatory damage ordered by tribunals

The worker should be safeguarded from harassment and bullying in their place of work. Typically, bullies will harass other workers by:

  • sustained critical comments directed at their victim for no reason other than to boost their own self worth
  • supervisors will belittle a worker or change normal workloads to make the victim look incompetent, sometimes as a power play – to show who’s in charge
  • in the same manner, individuals in supervisory positions may assign complex or impossible to meet deadlines
  • fellow workers who want to feel as if they are in charge will berate or shout at a co-worker, even though they have no supervisory connection
  • nit-pick about petty matters or make groundless grievances against the individual or their output
  • make a person the object of their jokes, pranks, or antics, which could also comprise sexual, sexual orientation, racial, or religious bigotry
  • attack another’s character or spread rumours about the victim, rather true or not and may have nothing to do with employment

Bullies normally have a low self-esteem level and harass others to make themselves feel better about themselves.Often when their victim confronts a bully in the presence of authority, the bullying stops, but this can be a dangerous practice without knowledge of the bully’s temperament, which could be violent. It is best to raise a grievance and let management investigate.

Outlined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and its amendments, which is enforceable by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is aprovision that makes an employer legally responsible for the health, welfare, and safety for their workers. An employer that does not comply could be found to be negligent both in an Employment Tribunal and in the Civil Court and consequently inbreach of the employment contract.

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 affirms that some bullying incidences are criminal offences, which can result in the offender facing charges, fines, and/or imprisonment, and since it is their responsibility to protect their workers and provide a safe environment in which to work, employers could face the same charges, particularly when they knew of the bullying behaviour and did nothing.

Resolving Bullying at Work

An individual, who endures bullying at work, should raise a grievance to managementor a trade union representative, and then as soon as possible consult an employment law solicitor. When management allows the behaviour to continue or it is management that is bullying, it could be considered constructive dismissal if you decide to resign. The longer you stay in the unacceptable position the worse it will become and a continued stay may be considered as your acceptance of the situation.

When it comes to a claim for compensatory damages, it is best to have as much physical evidence as possible. Therefore, the victim should record or log the incidents of bullying. Pay particular attention to details,the times and dates of occurrence, the location, and witnesses, and provide as much detail about the incident as possible. Even record trivial antics, jokes, or pranks, particularly those that could be considered sexual, racial slursor religious hatred that can establish the pattern of abuse, which is systematic bullying. For More Information Visit: UK Employment Lawyers