Preventing Bullying and Harassment

Created on: 02 Aug 2023 | Last modified: 09 Nov 2023

Bullying and Harassment should not be tolerated in the workplace.

Employees have a right to work in an environment in which they can contribute, have their opinions and work respected, and where diversity is valued.

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees and a duty not to discriminate. Whilst there may be remedy in law for some people subjected to offensive behaviour reliance on the law alone will not provide protection for those who have been bullied or harassed nor prevent bullying and harassment from occurring.

A distinguishing characteristic of bullying and harassment is that those subjected to it are vulnerable and often reluctant to complain. They may be too embarrassed or intimidated or feel their complaint will be trivialised. They may also fear reprisal. Usually, what most people want is for the behaviour to stop.

It is better to challenge the root causes of bullying and harassment through effective policies and practice. Promoting good management and workplace practices is more effective than attempting to remedy the effects of a hostile and threatening workplace culture once the damage is done.

One of the defences which may be used by an employer in cases of harassment is that all steps which could be reasonably taken to prevent the behaviour were taken. It is, therefore, in their interests to have policies which are operational. This will include training not solely on the reasons for, definitions and effects of bullying and harassment but interpersonal, behavioural, workplace organisational and management skills. Training opportunities should be provided for all employees.