Bullying in any form should not be accepted or tolerated in any workplace. An employer can increase the visibility of their attitude to bullying by drawing up a policy document outlining:
· What bullying is
· That bullying is not acceptable
· That the organisation’s values do not support or tolerate such behaviour which infringes an individual‘s right to dignity at work
· Steps to be taken both informally, including some mediation if possible, and formally, for those who feel they have a legitimate bullying complaint
The employer should make the policy document clear and unambiguous and ensure it is signed, up-to-date, visible and in operation. Having the policy is not enough: policies must be the result of consultation with staff, and must be made known and available to all permanent and temporary staff, and they must be implemented when complaints are made. Organisations should raise awareness of the issue by inclusion in staff bulletins, training, at recruitment stage and using any other appropriate method.
Producing an Anti-bullying Policy
One of the first steps in the prevention of workplace bullying is the drawing up of a written Anti-Bullying Policy, in accordance with the Health and Safety Authority‘s Code of Practice on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work, the Labour Relations Commission‘s Code of Practice Detailing Procedures for Addressing Bullying in the Workplace and the Equality Authority‘s Codes of Practice on Prevention of Workplace Bullying and Harassment, where harassment under the 9 grounds identified in the document is the issue. See Codes of Practice for further information.
Bullying should also be referred to in the safety statement as a hazard and should:
· State the management ethos or attitude to the issue – a commitment to dignity in the workplace
· Clearly outline what bullying is
· Clearly outline the step by step procedure for managing complaints
· Identify an informal and formal process, depending on each complaint
The policy document must comply with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, and reflect the employer’s reasonable attempt to manage workplace activities so as not to allow improper behaviour at work. The Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work 2007 and the HSA’s Bullying Code of Practice are useful templates. Visit the Health and Safety Authority for further information.