For over two decades we have acted for employees who have been bullied in the workplace. Bullying can have a devastating effect on the victim, it almost always leads to absence from work, and it is not unusual for the victim of bullying to ultimately tender their resignation. It is difficult too for HR or management to deal with complaints of bullying because it can invariably come down to the word of the victim against that of the bully.

We have seen what can only be described as an epidemic of complaints of bullying in the last six months of 2015 and in the recent past we have noted a newer phenomenon, that managers are being bullied by those they are employed to supervise. In some cases managers have been physically assaulted and while it is clear to us that this is gross misconduct on the part of the employee, HR are reluctant to take action because it seems to us that they perceive that the bully may have a cause of action following such dismissal.

While we acknowledge that there are difficulties for both HR and management, taking no action is not an option. Employees should be encouraged to bring a complaint under the Dignity at Work policy. Every employer should have an Employee Assistance Programme to assist victims of bullying or any employee who are suffering stress in the workplace. An Employee Assistance Programme usually consists of 6 free counselling sessions for the employee, and you can now retain EAP providers who will only charge the employer if the employee avails of the counselling sessions. In other words, there is no charge to the employer if there is an EAP in place and the employees do not avail of it. There is clear law to the effect that if an employer has an EAP in place then they are unlikely to be successfully sued should an employee subsequently complain of a bullying related injury or injury from excessive stress at work.

If we have raised any issues that you think we may be able to assist you with, then do not hesitate to get in contact with me.