Workplace bullying – The Equality Act 2010
According to ACAS, Bullying is defined as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient’.
Harassment, defined by the Equality Act 2010, is regarded as any form of behaviour that makes an individual feel intimidated or offended. This includes “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”.
Bullying and harassment can occur face to face, via telephone, email or letter. With the rise of social media, cyberbullying is becoming more commonplace.
What kind of impact can bullying and harassment have on a workplace?
Bullying and harassment in the workplace can be extremely detrimental to the workforce; the impact the economy has been estimated at £13.75 billion for absenteeism and turnover and 1.5% reduction in overall UK productivity, which equates to around £17.65 billion.
ACAS report that managers reporting grievances concerning bullying and harassment has risen from 7% in 1998 to 11% in 2011.
Workplace bullying can lead to ill-health and work-related stress, it affects morale and is the cause of untold misery to workers.
Everyone has the right to enjoy a respectful and positive working environment. A
s employers, you are responsible for providing safe and healthy surroundings, where your employees can enjoy a bullying and harassment-free working experience, not just in the office but, in areas where work is performed. This extends to training, conferences, social outings and work parties.
Additionally, employers can be liable for third party bullying and harassment, for example, where a client, customer or other stakeholders of a business can harass an employee.
Workplace bullying – What should employers do?
Time spent understanding your responsibilities and proactive planning will provide long term benefits for you and your employees. Attitude, policy and training are key elements for your success.
Leading by example will help influence behaviour, attitude and the thoughts of others. A clear Bullying, Harassment and Grievance Policy should be implemented and effectively communicated to and understood by, all employees. Your policy must send a clear message to all employees that workplace bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Employees need to know what procedures to follow and who to consult if they have been affected by bullying and harassment in the workplace. Similarly, line managers need to be aware of what to do if an employee seeks help.
What kind of training is available?
Training your staff is fundamental in providing your employees with the necessary knowledge, information and guidance to help reduce and manage bullying and harassment in your organisation. Training should be ongoing and reinforced periodically by reminders for all employees.
Training courses come in many forms. Interactive eLearning is a green and cost-effective way of educating your workforce, 24/7 and in any location. Online courses grant greater accountability and audit capability to help break down training barriers to ensure businesses embrace your learning agenda.
EssentialSkillz Equality and Diversity Training draws on real-life examples and illustrates the significance of an anti-bullying and harassment policy and the importance of an appropriate complaints procedure.
As with all the EssentialSkillz courses, the Equality and Diversity course can be customised to meet your needs, enabling your workforce to understand the specific policies and procedures you have developed for your organisation. A designated course administrator can edit the text and images within the course using the integrated authoring tool, and link to organisation-specific documentation, all at no extra cost.
Once the course is completed, users will be required to take a final test consisting of as default, 10 required questions out of a bank of 20 questions. The course administrator within your organisation can set a pass threshold, depending on your requirements and decide to implement the random test question feature. On successful completion of the test, users can download and print a certificate.
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