BullyingWork Environment

What Is Bullying?

WorkSafe defines bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety”.

Why is Bullying the employer’s business?

Bullying is unacceptable on moral grounds and the employer should take immediate steps to deal with bullying in the workplace appropriately. If left unchecked and a bullied employee suffers a medically recognized condition because of stress, an employer may be liable to prosecution under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, or liability under the Employment Relations Act 2000, Harassment Act 1997, or the Human Rights Act 1993.

What does workplace Bullying look like?

Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or an abuse of power that undermines, humiliates or injures the recipient. Its effects are accumulative and difficult to control. The employee will suffer silently for a long time before they realise they are being bullied.

Examples of Bullying

  • Copying emails about someone to others who don’t need to know
  • Excluding an employee
  • Setting up a n employee to fail
  • Making threats about job security
  • Overloading someone with work
  • Physical intimidation
  • Picking on someone
  • Insulting someone
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Using humiliating language

Bullying impacts on employer productivity!

  • Poor performance
  • Increased absence
  • Low morale
  • Loss of company reputation
  • Resignations and difficulty in recruiting
  • Poor customer service and/or product quality

Bullying is not:

  • Firm management
  • Inconsiderate conduct by the employer that makes the employee unhappy or resentful
  • Impoliteness from the employer
  • Dissatisfaction by the Employer of the employee’s performance

What should employers do?

  • Make bullying unacceptable in the workplace
  • Lead by example
  • Set up formal policies and procedures for dealing with bullying
  • Run staff training programmes at all levels
  • Establish a neutral representative who staff can consult on a confidential basis

What should employees do?

  • Keep a diary of all incidents of bullying behaviour
  • If there is a pattern tell your employer
  • Follow any discussion with a formal email
  • Note content of discussions and proposed actions
  • Employees need to look out for each other
  • Support any employee being bullied
  • Encourage them to raise the issue with the employer
  • Stamping out bullying helps everyone

What if I don’t trust my employer

  • Seek advice from a senior manager, your union, a lawyer or advocate, or someone you trust
  • Call MBIE on 0800 20 90 20 or contact your local Community Law Office

Need further advice

If you need to get some practical employment advice call about Forced Resignation call us now on 021 242 3200 or visit our website and send us an email request. We try to respond really quickly to you.