Bullying and harassment at work, of any kind, should not be tolerated. It’s important to have a policy that deals with bullying and harassment, so you and your staff know how to deal with it, as well as the risks it poses to your business.
You, as an employer, are responsible for preventing bullying and harassing behaviour. What steps do you need to take to ensure that your staff feel safe at work?
What is bullying?
The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.
The relevant protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. Employees can complain of behaviour that they find offensive, even if it is not directed at them.
Acas lists examples of bullying/harassing behaviour to include spreading malicious rumours, insulting someone, exclusion or victimisation, unfair treatment or deliberately undermining a competent worker by constant criticism.
Bullying and Harassment Policy
A HR policy covering bullying and harassment is essential so staff know what constitutes as bullying and harassment and what they need to do if they believe that they, or another member of staff, are being bullied or harassed.
You need to make a clear statement about the standards of behaviour you expect in the workplace and what is unacceptable. This policy should also include the responsibility of staff to respect others and how to report actions they feel are inappropriate or threatening.
It is important that your team know that any accusation will be taken seriously and kept confidential.
Why do you need a policy?
Staff that feel attacked or harassed at work, and staff members that witness such actions, even if they are not the target, will suffer from low morale and poor staff/management relations. There will be inefficiencies in work output and you are likely to lose staff as a result. These staff may also feel too embarrassed to tell you why they are resigning, so there is a high risk that you will not know about the problem until it is too late to do anything about it.
Alternatively, accusations of bullying or harassment could lead to tribunals, court cases and payment of unlimited compensation.
If you need help with your bullying and harassment policy, contact HR That Helps today for advice