From a legal and also a practical perspective, organisations are obliged to ensure the dignity of their employees while at work. Failure to do so can result in absenteeism, lowered morale and a reduction in productivity and, if not addressed appropriately and efficiently, may result in a case being brought to the Workplace Relations Commission. Even the most seasoned and confident managers can find it daunting when faced with allegations of workplace bullying, harassment, intimidation or even sexual harassment. Any form of bullying is sensitive and must be dealt with in a manner that safeguards the reputations and privacy of the employees concerned. Managers should keep in mind that everyone’s experience is unique to them and try and remain as
subjective as possible, all the while engaging in delicate conversation.
Workplace bullying is defined as repeated inappropriate behavior, whether direct or indirect, verbal, physical or otherwise, perpetrated by one or more people against another at work, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. Even an isolated incident can affect a person’s morale, albeit an isolated incident might not amount to bullying.
The purpose of a Dignity and Respect at Work Policy is to establish a robust procedure to protect all employees and provide managers with the necessary tools to aid compliance. In late 2020 a new Code of Practice was published to provide practical guidance for employers in the event of such an incident arising. Whilst adopting the provisions of the code is not mandatory, it is to be recommended, and an employer who can demonstrate compliance with the Code of Practice will always fare better should a dispute end up before the Workplace Relations Commission. A best- practice key recommendation is that the employer should provide a neutral, trained person to conduct an investigation into incidents of bullying. For SME’s, this may be unworkable due to staffing and training levels.
An affordable option is to engage the services of a trained expert to deal with such matters should they arise. In the long run this makes sound economic sense. We at HR World Partner can help. Why not give us a call and discuss the options?