LRD Booklets November 2012

Bullying and harassment at work - a guide for trade unionists

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Introduction

Introduction (849 words)

Bullying and harassment scar workplaces and ruin lives. This booklet records some of the mounting evidence that bullying is on the rise in UK ...
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Chapter 1

1. THE EXTENT OF BULLYING AND HARASSMENT AT WORK (117 words)

Bullying and harassment are major problems in workplaces today and there is disturbing evidence that the economic downturn is making matters worse. ...
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The scale of workplace bullying (395 words)

The Fair Treatment at Work survey conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department for Business, Information and Skills (BIS)) ...
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Results of the 2012 TUC biennial safety rep survey (222 words)

The Labour Research Department (LRD) carries out a biennial survey of safety reps for the TUC. Over recent years, the survey has charted a steady ...
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Bullying in the NHS (358 words)

Research by public services union UNISON points to widespread bullying in the NHS, the biggest single employer in the UK and Europe. A 2010 study ...
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Bullying in the transport and communications sector (129 words)

Bullying and harassment is a major problem in the transport and communications sector. Forty two per cent of safety reps in the 2012 TUC safety reps ...
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Bullying in print journalism — the Leveson Inquiry (577 words)

In 2012, the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics revealed a shocking catalogue of bullying and abuse in the newspaper industry. Twelve journalists ...
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Strong unions make it easier to speak out (147 words)

It is no coincidence that the hacking scandal began at The News of the World — a paper run by News International, where journalists lacked trade ...
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Bullying of interns (213 words)

Evidence of the internship explosion can be seen across the British economy, but the worst offender is the media industry, where interns are ...
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Bullying in the construction industry — the blacklisting scandal (375 words)

A shocking example of institutional bullying in recent years has been the uncovering of evidence of a culture of systemic blacklisting of workers by 4 ...
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Bullying in call centres (234 words)

Described by general secretary of UNISON Dave Prentis as “21st century sweatshops”, union surveys have revealed a culture in many call centres ...
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Bullying in the education sector (290 words)

A 2012 online survey of 3,000 teachers by teaching union NASUWT paints a grim picture of the working climate in schools. More than two-thirds of ...
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Cyber-bullying of teachers (307 words)

The teaching unions have been lobbying the government and local education authorities hard on the issue of cyber-bullying, which is a growing ...
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Bullying of cabin crew (201 words)

A 2010 survey by general union Unite of nearly 2,000 employees of British Airways (mostly cabin crew members) found shocking levels of bullying, ...
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Bullying in local and central government (201 words)

The economic downturn has seen a sharp rise in levels of bullying in local government. This sector has been blighted by what the TUC describes as ...
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Bullying and harassment of vulnerable workers (457 words)

In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion in levels of low-paid casualised, short-term and agency labour. The TUC points out that ...
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Illegal workers (109 words)

The position of illegal workers is even worse. Their illegal status means that little is known about their working conditions, which are brought ...
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Domestic workers (97 words)

Domestic workers are another “at risk” group. They are particularly vulnerable since their immigration status and housing are dependent on their ...
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Sexual harassment (454 words)

It is difficult to find out how common sexual harassment is, because it often goes unreported. A survey in 1993 for the Industrial Society (now the ...
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Racial harassment (491 words)

Surveys by the Commission for Racial Equality (now part of the Equality and Human Rights Commission) over many years have drawn attention to the ...
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Harassment of disabled workers (389 words)

In 2011, 7.1 million workers (around one in five) between the ages of 16 and 64 had a long-term disability. Employment rates for disabled people ...
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Harassment of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers (330 words)

Many surveys have found that lesbian, gay and bisexual people commonly experience harassment at work. ...
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Harassment of transgender workers (230 words)

Until recently, there was little research examining the level of transgender-related harassment in British workplaces. The Equality Act 2010 ...
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Harassment related to religion or belief (175 words)

According to the 2001 census, a quarter of UK workers are active members of their faith. Many report harassment at work because of their beliefs. ...
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Harassment related to caste (154 words)

A 2010 Home Office study, Caste discrimination in Great Britain, also records worrying evidence of discrimination between castes, including ...
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Harassment related to age (232 words)

Discrimination and harassment on grounds of age applies at both ends of the age scale, although the BIS Fair treatment at work Age Report 2010 found ...
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The causes of bullying and harassment (318 words)

There are many potential causes of bullying and harassment, but the evidence summarised in this Chapter shows that a key cause is the continuing ...
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The consequences of bullying and harassment (19 words)

Bullying and harassment at work have consequences both for individuals and for organisations. ...
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The cost of bullying to organisations (524 words)

In 2004, the predecessor to the Department for Business Information and Skills, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, ...
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Consequences beyond the workplace (76 words)

The consequences of bullying and harassment can extend beyond the immediate workplace, by, for example, making it harder to recruit from different ...
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The cost of bullying to individuals (309 words)

The Dignity at Work Partnership divided these costs into lost earnings or income, and “human costs” — pain, fear and “a general reduction in ...
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Fearful employees will not speak out (248 words)

A further cost to employers is that workers will be less likely to speak out about hidden problems because of fear of reprisal. Two recent examples ...
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Chapter 2

2. THE LAW (218 words)

There is no legislation specifically aimed at preventing workplace bullying. Unions campaigned for many years without success for a specific legal ...
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Health and safety law (414 words)

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) requires employers to protect the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees (Section 2(1 ...
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Compensation for personal injury (187 words)

It may be possible to bring a claim for personal injury in the civil courts where bullying has resulted in reasonably foreseeable psychiatric injury. ...
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Successful union action (179 words)

Unions have helped a number of bullied members to take cases to the civil courts. For ...
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Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (524 words)

A claim may also be possible under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 97), although, again, the practical barriers are very considerable. ...
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Criminal offence (131 words)

Causing a person harassment, alarm or distress can also amount to a criminal offence and in some circumstances may lead to a police prosecution ...
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Criminal law and cyber-bullying (54 words)

Under the Malicious Communications Act 1998, it is an offence to send an indecent, offensive or threatening letter, electronic communication or ...
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Claims under the Equality Act 2010 (59 words)

Discrimination law is now found in the Equality Act 2010. The Act prohibits harassment, discrimination and victimisation because of race, religion, ...
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Harassment under the Equality Act 2010 (339 words)

Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment occurs where, for a reason related to one of the “protected characteristics”, an employer subjects a ...
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A wide range of conduct can be harassment (398 words)

For harassment to be prohibited by the Equality Act 2010, the offensive behaviour does not have to be because the target of the harassment has the ...
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Outing a gay worker against their wishes is harassment (95 words)

It is harassment to “out” a gay worker against his or her wishes, or to refer to somebody’s sexuality in a derogatory or humiliating way ...
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Zero tolerance (98 words)

This means that to avoid liability, employers now need to work much harder to make sure that the organisational climate in which people work is one ...
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Sexual harassment (124 words)

As well as prohibiting harassment related to gender, section 26(2) of the Equality Act 2010 outlaws sexual harassment — meaning unwanted ...
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The employer’s liability for harassment (239 words)

Under the Equality Act 2010, the employer is liable for all unlawful acts committed by their employees in the course of employment, whether or not ...
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The employer’s ‘reasonable steps’ defence (383 words)

The defence of reasonable steps can now be found in section 109(4) of the Equality Act 2010. This says that an employer will not be liable for ...
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‘In the course of employment’ (50 words)

For an employer to be liable, the harassment must take place “in the course of employment”. This phrase has a wide meaning, and can cover out of ...
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Is an employer liable where an agency worker harasses one of its direct employees? (117 words)

This was the subject of a recent EAT case Mahood v Irish Centre Housing Limited (UKEAT/0228/10/ZT. Mr Mahood, of Irish nationality, claimed he was ...
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Liability for third party harassment (169 words)

Where harassment happens more than once, an employee may also be able to rely on the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 prohibiting third party ...
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Third party harassment and the EHRC Code (172 words)

The EHRC Code of Practice suggests that depending on the size and resources of an employer, reasonable steps to prevent third party harassment could ...
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Can illegal workers bring claims for harassment under the Equality Act 2010? (300 words)

Illegal workers — especially domestic workers in the employer’s home — are among the most vulnerable workers in the UK (see Chapter 1). Even ...
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Compensation under the Equality Act 2010 (46 words)

Where a worker succeeds with a claim for discrimination or harassment under the Equality Act 2010, compensation can include net lost earnings, ...
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Time limits (59 words)

A claim for discrimination or harassment under the Equality Act 2010 must be brought within three months of the act of harassment or discrimination. ...
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Bullying and unfair dismissal (377 words)

Where an employee is bullied at work, he or she may be able to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal, as long as they have enough service ...
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What if the employer apologises? (229 words)

An employer who has behaved badly may, by its follow-up actions, be able to repair a fundamental breach of contract and defeat a claim for ...
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Choosing the right court (259 words)

Another case demonstrating the severe limitations of a claim for constructive unfair dismissal in the context of bullying is GAB Robbins v Triggs ...
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No compensation for injury to feelings in unfair dismissal (221 words)

Another case that demonstrates the limits of an unfair dismissal claim is the well-known House of Lords decision in Dunnachie v Kingston-upon-Hull ...
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Other important rights (188 words)

Many other important employment rights are likely to be relevant to an employee suffering from bullying and harassment. For example, many rights, ...
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Bullying, race and sex discrimination at the Grampian Health Board (336 words)

Mrs Sumithra Hewage was a Sri Lankan consultant orthodontist and Head of Department with the Grampian Health Board. She worked there for 12 years ...
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Unite calls for independent inquiry into racism at Manchester NHS Trust (256 words)

General union Unite has written to the health secretary asking for an independent inquiry into institutional racism at Manchester NHS Trust and an ...
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Chapter 3

3. RECOGNISING BULLYING AND HARASSMENT (288 words)

To tackle harassment and bullying at work, it is necessary to identify the type of behaviour considered unacceptable, and to provide examples so ...
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Examples of unacceptable behaviour (478 words)

Acas says it is good practice for employers to provide examples of unacceptable behaviour in their organisation. Examples of bullying behaviour ...
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Forms of harassment (397 words)

Harassment can take particular forms. Where it is linked to a “protected characteristic” (race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, ...
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TUC guidance on supporting transgendered workers (645 words)

The TUC has produced guidance for reps on supporting transgendered workers in the workplace. It emphasises how the process of changing gender is ...
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Other forms of harassment (19 words)

Harassment can also involve deriding or mocking people’s political beliefs, or their trade union involvement. ...
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Chapter 4

4. RAISING AWARENESS OF BULLYING AND HARASSMENT (214 words)

The TUC says that there are a number of positive steps reps can take to raise awareness of the need to tackle bullying and harassment at ...
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The Dignity at Work Partnership (346 words)

Unions have a long history of engaging effectively with these issues. In particular, in 2004 the predecessor to the Department for Business ...
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Health and safety risk assessment (484 words)

One good way of taking collective steps to tackle bullying is to ask the employer to carry out a health and safety risk assessment. Under the ...
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Monitoring the climate in your workplace (248 words)

The TUC emphasises the crucial importance of an accurate record of the causes and effects of bullying and harassment in the workplace. It says a ...
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Chapter 5

5. TACKLING BULLYING AND HARASSMENT (66 words)

Tackling bullying and harassment can be difficult, and the victim is likely to need understanding and practical support to help them through a ...
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What individual members can do (293 words)

The TUC suggests that members who are being bullied or harassed should consider trying to speak to the bully as a first step. “A direct approach ...
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What reps can do (718 words)

If approached by a worker who complains of bullying or harassment, reps can take the following ...
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Representing a member accused of bullying (361 words)

Many of the points outlined above apply equally if you are asked to represent a member accused of bullying or harassment. In ...
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CWU Guidance for reps (173 words)

The CWU suggests the following ground rules for reps when dealing with ...
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What other workers can do (246 words)

While most bullying is perpetrated by managers and supervisors, there are still workers who get involved in bullying their colleagues or, by their ...
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Support for bullied and harassed staff (125 words)

Good policies on bullying and harassment will provide a contact or a harassment officer or mediator to support those being bullied or harassed. ...
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Other resources (104 words)

Many unions produce guides and toolkits to support reps who are tackling discrimination and harassment in their workplace and several have been ...
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Tackling bullying and harassment — checklist (102 words)

} Do all your members know what to do if they are being bullied or harassed, or if they are aware that a colleague is being bullied or harassed? ...
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Chapter 6

6. NEGOTIATING A POLICY (152 words)

Policies and procedures are a necessary step towards tackling bullying and harassment at work, even though they are not sufficient to eradicate the ...
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What sort of policy? (106 words)

There are different ways of developing policies on bullying and harassment. The TUC says that bullying at work should be dealt with as a health and ...
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What a policy should include (200 words)

The policy should start with a clear statement confirming that no form of bullying and harassment will be tolerated, anywhere in the organisation. ...
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Statement of commitment (80 words)

The policy should start with a statement of commitment that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated, and that complaints will be taken ...
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Examples (108 words)

The policy needs to provide examples of harassment and bullying behaviour, so that staff are clear about the types of behaviour that will not be ...
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Prevention (19 words)

The policy should spell out the steps the organisation is taking to prevent bullying and harassment at work. ...
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Duties of managers and supervisors (114 words)

The duty of managers to implement the policy, and their responsibilities for preventing workplace bullying and harassment and for taking action to ...
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TUC recommendations (332 words)

The TUC says that any policy should be jointly agreed and should ...
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Trade union involvement (144 words)

Acas points out that a bullying and harassment policy will carry more weight if staff are involved in its development. As bullying and harassment ...
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Contact officers/anti-harassment counsellors (225 words)

Policies should include the designation of independent people to provide help and support for those being bullied and harassed. This is because ...
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Information and training (217 words)

The policy needs to be pro-active, preventing bullying and harassment as well as reacting to situations where it occurs. Training and information ...
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Complaints procedure (105 words)

Ideally there should be a separate complaints procedure for dealing with bullying and harassment. If there is not, it will be necessary to use the ...
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Informal action (103 words)

Acas points out that people are sometimes not aware that their behaviour is unwelcome, and that an informal discussion can lead to greater ...
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A role for mediation? (157 words)

The government is strongly in support of greater use of workplace mediation to resolve workplace conflict, and is stepping up plans to extend ...
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The joint Acas and TUC guidance on mediation (243 words)

The joint guidance suggests that mediation is suited to situations where there ...
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Formal complaints procedure (350 words)

A formal procedure is likely to be appropriate ...
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Investigating the complaint (126 words)

The investigation should be run by a manager senior to those involved. There should be direct interviews with all the persons involved and any ...
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Timescales (48 words)

Complaints need to be dealt with quickly, and the procedure needs to include a proper timetable. The TUC says the timescale must be as short as ...
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Confidentiality (114 words)

This is a complex and difficult issue. In the book Bullying and emotional abuse in the workplace, the authors Jon Richards and Hope Daley ...
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If the complaint is upheld (395 words)

If the complaint is upheld, action to stop the bullying or harassment should be taken immediately. One option is to separate the perpetrator and the ...
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If the complaint is not upheld (101 words)

Even if the complaint is not upheld, there may be a need to transfer or reschedule the work of one or other of the employees, as clearly there may ...
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Counselling (101 words)

Bullying and harassment can affect people very badly. Policies should include the offer of counselling to assist employees through the procedure and ...
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Rehabilitation (127 words)

If bullying or harassment at work leads to ill health and sickness, a period of rehabilitation may be required. It is also important to ensure that ...
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Monitoring (122 words)

The TUC says that any policy must be monitored regularly, to assess whether it is achieving its aims and objectives. Even if there have not been any ...
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Union activity tackling workplace harassment and bullying (499 words)

In the TUC’s biennial Equality Audit conducted by LRD in 2009, well over half (61%) of unions told LRD that they had current policies or ...
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Gains in the workplace (278 words)

Tesco and USDAW have worked jointly to introduce a dignity at work policy covering thousands of staff in the company’s retail and distribution ...
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National action case study — the Royal Mail (511 words)

For many years, the post office had one of the worst records on bullying. A survey of over 2,000 members of the CWU communication workers’ union ...
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Negotiating a policy — checklist (113 words)

} Is your employer aware of the Acas and HSE guidance on bullying and harassment at work? ...
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Further information

Further information (408 words)

Many unions produce their own guidance on tackling bullying and harassment at work and should also be able to provide advice. The following ...
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