Every employee has the right to be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace, and employees do not have to tolerate bullying by employers. Bullying in the workplace is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly; trying to ignore it may only make it worse. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to address the problem of a workplace bully, whether they are a colleague or your employer.
Workplace bullying links to feelings of incompetence as well as job insecurity. It is generally seen as unwelcome conduct which is hostile or offensive and induces a fear of harm and/or humiliation.
Bullying vs the Law
According to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000, workplace bullying is offensive conduct in the workplace which is persistent and/or serious and demeans, humiliates or creates a hostile or intimidating environment. This offensive conduct includes workplace violence, moral harassment and emotional abuse.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) states that employers have a duty to protect workers from bullying, and that they should develop a code of conduct on harassment in consultation with the employees and the employee representatives.
Dealing with Bullying
It is the responsibility of the employer to develop a policy or code of conduct with regards to bullying, and they should educate managers and employees on suitable workplace behaviour. Grievance procedures must be established to protect employees from bullying; senior management should actively support the introduction of these procedures, and they should implement practices to alleviate workplace bullying.
It is important that human resource practitioners are educated in effective investigation processes with regards to bullying in the workplace. Suitable reporting mechanisms should be established between human resource departments and senior management to report on corporate bullying.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Please feel free to contact Brian Kahn for further information or specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)