Covers the definition of bullying, the employer's duty to provide a work environment which protects the health, safety and welfare of their employees, risk assessment including the risks of bullying in the workplace leading to a safety statement, HSE and WRC Codes of Practice on bullying, legal action and recent case law.

There is no statutory definition of bullying. Bullying is defined under specific Codes of Practice including the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures, the Industrial Relations Act Code and the Health and Safety Authority Code. The Industrial Relations Code states that bullying may be viewed as repeated inappropriate behaviour, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. From the above it is clear that once off incidents will not be classified as bullying, there has to be a repeated pattern to the behaviour.

The following acts, if repeated, may be viewed as examples of bullying behaviour:

  • exclusion with negative results
  • verbal abuse or insults
  • physical abuse
  • less favourable treatment than colleagues
  • acts of intrusion such as pestering, spying or stalking
  • menacing behaviour
  • intimidation
  • aggression
  • undermining behaviour
  • humiliation
  • withholding work related information

Workplace bullying: from living nightmare to legal maze

When it comes to bullying and harassment, the bad news is that there are really no winners. Regardless of the form, outcome or one’s role in a case, everybody suffers. However, for employers, the good news is that recent judgments serve to clarify how they can minimise their legal liability

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