Bullying Or Harassment?
As employers of domestic and household staff you rely on staff working professionally with each other, showing an appropriate degree of respect.
But what is the situation when a member of your staff asks if they can have a word with you saying they are being bullied by another staff member?
The situation is so bad that the employee who alleges the bullying says they are considering leaving for this reason.
You are now faced with a quandary, what do you do and if you do nothing, will the person claiming bullying leave and would there be repercussions from that?
Let’s look at bullying and harassment as they can be linked issues.
Bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Examples of bullying or harassing behaviour include:
- spreading malicious rumours
- unfair treatment
- picking on or regularly undermining someone
- denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities
Bullying and harassment can happen:
- by letter
- by email
- by phone
However, bullying itself is not against the law, but harassment is. This is when the unwanted behaviour is related to one of the following:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
You may decide to dismiss the employee doing the bullying if you feel that has been their behaviour.
For your own protection this is where you should call on the expertise of a professional in this area to ensure that you are not in the wrong by your process of dismissal.
For instance: have you carried out a thorough investigation? Have you given your employee a chance to appeal your decision? Is there a workplace conduct policy in place?
These are factors which could count against you at a tribunal hearing.
Our advice as always in such situations is to take appropriate advice before taking any action.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.