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Bullying – a growing problem


A TUC survey last year estimated that 11 per cent of the working population have suffered some form of bullying in their workplace. Now the Industrial Society and the TUC have produced an information pack, "No Excuse - Beat bullying at work", which aims to bring the issues into the open.

Bullying is not the same as harassment, and often falls between the possible forms of legal protection against, for instance, discrimination or assault. It tends to be made up of endless small incidents which in themselves do not constitute an offence. Shouting, put-downs in front of clients or colleagues, whispering campaigns, covert small but cruel acts - all these can drive an employee to despair. The effects can range from sleeplessness to panic attacks, and sufferers have been known to resort to lengthy sick leave and even suicide.

A dozen or so tribunal cases, for "victimisation", are awaiting hearing, and according to an IS spokeswoman there is legislation in the pipeline to control this form of abuse.

Advice for those enduring bullying comes from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau:

- Talk the situation through initially - it might be a simple communication breakdown.
- Speak to colleagues so that you have witnesses, and keep a diary of the events and actions.
- Speak to your more senior managers to see if a solution can be worked out.
- After that stage, you may have to invoke the grievance procedure. If your company refuses, it is in breach of contract.
- Going to the Employment Tribunal is the last resort. If you reach this point, the CAB can act as mediator.

A valuable website which covers all forms of bullying is run by Tim Field.


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