According to research by TUC in 2015, almost a third of the UK’s workforce has experienced some form of workplace bullying and harassment. This demonstrates that despite all the social progression in the last few decades and laws that make workplace bullying and harassment unlawful, these matters still continue to be a problem that will always need to be challenged.
So what is workplace bullying and harassment? And what can you do if you feel like you’re a victim?
Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
What Is Workplace Bullying And Harassment?
It’s important to understand the meaning of each term so that you know if and to what degree you have been affected by either. Firstly, bullying is repeated cruel, offensive, or insulting behaviours that occur over a period of time that create a risk to the health and safety of the employee in question. Bullying is not necessarily because of a person’s sexual orientation, race, gender, or religious beliefs.
Harassment, on the other hand, is different from bullying because it is cruel, offensive, or insulting behaviours that are a form of discrimination based on someone’s gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation.
There are different types of bullying and harassment. Below are a few:
- Spreading malicious rumours
- Unjustified criticism
- Racist, sexist, or homophobic jokes or comments
- Continuous pranks
- Threats regarding your employment
- Any physical violence or threats of physical violence
- Behaviour aimed at humiliating another person
- Unwanted sexual advances or comments
Bullying and harassment can occur in different ways such as face-to-face, via email, social media, phone, and more.
What Does The Law Say About Workplace Bullying And Harassment?
This can be a bit tricky because according to the current law, bullying itself isn’t actually illegal but harassment is. Hence, understanding the definition of both is so important. Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is considered unlawful and anyone who is found to have breached the Equality Act can find themselves at the employment tribunal.
If a case makes it to the employment tribunal and ends up in favour of the person who mounted the harassment claim, then the victim of such harassment could be awarded financial compensation for the pain caused by the discrimination.
The kind of compensation victims of harassment can receive varies according to each specific case. There are three bands used as guidelines for determining how much should be awarded in such cases for financial compensation.
What Steps To Take If You Feel You’re A Victim Of Workplace Bullying And Harassment
The first thing you should do as a victim is talk to your line manager, HR department, or trade union representative. Often, many workplace bullying and harassment issues can be resolved successfully just by talking through the matter between the victim and the perpetrator within the workplace environment.
If you’re an employer, you should have a procedure outlined for dealing with these issues internally before a problem presents itself. If you do not have a procedure outlined, then you need to establish one for dealing with these issues as soon as possible.
If, after this course of action, the harassment still persist, then the next step should be to file a formal complaint to be lodged within your company’s HR department or with your trade union representative. If, even after all of this, the harassment still hasn’t stopped, then you can take action by lodging a harassment claim with the employment tribunal under the Equality Act.
Final Words: Workplace Bullying And Harassment
Workplace bullying and harassment is still an issue within the UK workforce and we will always need to challenge this to reduce the amount of occurrences we experience as a society. It is important that we continue to raise awareness about such problems in order to bring about change.
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