Bullying in the workplace is abusive behaviour. It is when individuals create an intimidating or humiliating environment for someone else. Bullying can make you feel distressed and have an impact on your emotional health. Some individuals feel as if there is no escape and can feel depressed and anxious about going to work.
It can range from physical or verbal violence, abuse, to humiliation and can undermine an individual’s confidence. This unwanted behaviour can involve someone’s gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, marital status, or beliefs. All these characteristics are protected under the Equality Act 2010. Because of this, bullying itself isn’t against the law, but it is illegal under the Equality Act 2010.
Bullying at work is most commonly seen when someone in a senior position is mistreating someone in a lower rank to them. Not only does bullying affect an employee, but it can also impact their family life as well. If you think you are being bullied, you should speak to someone straight away.
Different perceptions determine what bullying actually is.
The new Peter Rabbit film has sparked outrage over the portrayal of a character’s blackberry allergy. The film shows a scene where a group of rabbits throw berries at a rabbit suffering from the allergy. The reaction to this scene was mixed, and users took to social media to express their opinions on the matter. Some believe it was an insensitive disregard for allergies. Others think it allows parents to teach their children about allergies.
This scene has clearly split people’s opinion on whether it is bullying or whether it is just a life lesson needed to be taught to children. Sony Pictures and the filmmakers have issued an apology and said they “should not have made light” of the issue.
This shows how you have to be mindful of people’s perceptions, especially in the workplace. For example, an employee may think they are being bullied or may have seen a colleague being bullied.
Employers could look at creating a bullying policy. The policy should relate to all staff members. It should outline that bullying, harassment and discrimination is unacceptable. That it will not be tolerated within the organisation. Creating a bullying policy will also help an employee to identify what is and isn’t classed as bullying. The policy should also show the steps which should be taken if an employee feels they are being bullied, harassed or discriminated against.
Employers and senior managers should set a good example when at work. The standards of behaviour should be included in the staff handbook so they can have easy access to it at all times. Procedures should also be put in place for dealing with bullying complaints made by employees. This gives the employee who is being bullied confidence that the issue is being dealt with as soon as possible.
If you need any guidance or have any questions about bullying in the workplace, please contact a member of the HPC team:
T: 0844 800 5932