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Anti-Bullying Centre

Workplace Bullying

ABC is a national research and resource facility dedicated to the study of bullying behaviour in the workplace and to the development of resources and training to support individuals and organisations to prevent and intervene in bullying situations.

Under section 8 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, an employer is required to ‘prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk’. Your duty as an employee is not to engage in improper behaviour which would endanger the health, safety and welfare of yourself or the other employees

Definition of Workplace Bullying

The Health and Safety Authority in Ireland define workplace bullying as:

"repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual‘s right to dignity at work."

An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying.

(HSA, 2007)

Behaviours

The following are often cited as examples of bullying:

  •  Aggressive behaviour by a manager, supervisor, colleague or client.
  •  Repeated verbal harassment, abusive language, personal insults, name calling,
  •  Persistent unfair criticism.
  •  Persistent teasing, horseplay, uncomplimentary remarks, or offensive behaviour.
  •  Rumour mongering, maligning, or ridicule either direct or behind people backs.
  • The delegation of duties and responsibilities in an unfair and inequitable manner

Effects of Workplace Bullying

Effects on the individual

  • High levels of stress
  • Serious somatic symptoms
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicide  

Effects on the workplace 

  • High levels of absenteeism
  • High labour turnover
  • Absence and sickness rates
  • Recruitment and re-training
  • Legal action and tribunal proceedings
  • Loss of public image
  • Psychological and social costs

Litigation costs can be exhortative; employers being liable for bullying in their organisation whether or not they are aware of its existence.

ABC provides a workshop/seminar which will give guidance to both employees and employers on the following:

  •  To identify bullying
  •  Conflict awareness
  •  Responding to a bullying complaint
  •  Separating bullying from assertive management
  •  Dealing with workplace bullying through effective leadership
  •  To facilitate mediation
  •  To draw up an effective anti-bullying policy
  •  To create a bully free work environment

Mediation

Mediation is a process whereby an independent, neutral Mediator(s) assists the parties to come to agreement through a collaborative process. The Mediator is neither judge nor arbitrator and does not adjudicate or give decisions on the rights or wrongs of the actions of the parties. The Mediator supports the parties in identifying their issues and needs and in exploring how those needs can be addressed and how they might come to agreement. (MII Definition of Mediation). 

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method which eliminates the time, stress and costs associated with a long-drawn-out legal battles.