Dignity at Work Bill
Legislation has been passed in Tennesse USA, to Protect Workers against Workplace Bullying. Employment Rights eroded in the UK while employment rights increase in other countries.
In my blog dated October 2013 I referred to the survey carried out by the OECD which showed that UK workers were the 3rd least protected in terms of employment rights out of 40 developed countries. http://xperthr.co.uk/blogsemployment-intelligence/2013/03employment-law-reform-progress/#sthash.8QMj41F4.dpuf
The only countries which had less protection was the USA and Canada. Since then the employment protection for UK workers has deteriorated eg introduction of fees for employment tribunals; you have to be employed for 2 years instead of 1 year to be able to claim unfair dismissal (see Department for Business Innovation and Skills Employment Law 2013 Progress on Reform page 24 paragraph 2.3
However, Canadian Provinces have legislation to protect their workers against harassment / bullying in places such as Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario British Columbia. (see JILPT REPORT Workplace Bullying and Harassment No.12 20130.
In 2008, the OECD sited the USA as having the least protection for workers in the workplace. Yet now we see the Healthy Workplace Bill has been introduced into many States to protect workers against workplace bullying. Tennesse is the first state to enact the Law on June 3 2014. http://www.healthyworkplacebill.org/states/tn/tennessee.php
On April 13 2014, in Massachusetts, the Bill reached its 2nd reading in the House in the USA.
Nevada State Senator, Richard Segerblom of Las Vegas proposes amending Nevada’s employment discrimination law so that anyone who is a victim of a hostile workplace environment has a legal remedy whether or not they can show illegal discrimination.
This I would argue, would overcome the absurdity of our present law in the UK as I endeavoured to show in the previous blog with various examples.
However, what is happening in the UK today to protect UK workers against bullying in the workplace – NOTHING! There has been a lot of talk in the past by unions, MP’s and others, such as the great work by Tim Field and the Andrea Adams Trust to show the seriousness of the problem in the UK and how it is affecting the mental health of individuals and also the economy as well as business organisations and the efficiency of workplaces but still workplace bullying continues.
As well as the references I have referred to in previous blogs, see the speech made by John Robertson MP in 2008 on 16th December http://www.john-robertson.co.uk/2008/12/dignity-at-work/
Apart from this blog I have seen no recent campaigning from MP’s or unions to stop this evil practice.
We need to follow the example of other countries and learn from them. We must not give up fighting against this morally outrageous practice which needs to be made illegal.
Support the Campaign to Introduce Legislation to Protect Workers and our Economy against Workplace Bullying
2004 Voluntary Project to Combat Workplace Bullying in UK. 10 Years Later – FAILED. Now is the time to bring in UK Legislation to Protect our Workers as in other Countries.
Valerie Davey MP. (Lab) for Bristol West stated in 2004
“The need for the Government to be more proactive in promoting and ensuring dignity at work for all employees at every level has been reiterated from the back benches of this Chamber and the House of Lords since at least 1996……
All Members of Parliament must know through their surgeries of cases of constituents experiencing bullying at work and being unable to voice that experience and seek a resolution. When we first heard about those often desperate cases most of us were unaware of the scale of the problem….
Subsequent evidence from trade Unions confirmed that despite years of campaigning against bullying, it remains a persistent and extensive problem.”
Valerie Davey MP went on to describe a new project that was being launched.
“The project has been launched to provide supportive advice and training to organisations that are trying to tackle bullying, train employees as counsellors, devise and promote a voluntary charter on dignity at work, promote examples of excellent employers in the UK and produce a benchmark that enables organisations to measure their success in achieving dignity at work and a “ban the bullying” pack.”
She went on to say “ I remind the Government that other European countries have followed the legislative route and I hope the work (Project) will be compared with the work in other countries.”
Ms Davey MP hoped that the project would be enough to stamp out bullying in the workplace and therefore no need to bring in legislation. However she went on to say that if the project was not successful that Ministers would then reconsider and bring in legislation.
“-and with assurance –from the Minister that the project will be monitored and that should good practice not prove as infectious as we all hope, the Government will reconsider the possibility of legislation and revisit the new clause or a similar provision later”
That was back in March 2004.
Ten years later the project I argue has not been successful. Surely 10 years is long enough to test out a project. Was there any monitoring? Are there any reports regarding any monitoring? I think the following links to newspaper articles over recent years reporting on workplace bullying is enough to show that ‘the project has not been successful and therefore legislation needs to be brought in, in line with other countries.
These are just a small percentage of articles I have collected from newspapers which I believe shows that the Project referred to by Valerie Davey has not been successful.
It also must be recognised that the articles are referring to large Public Sector organisations which attracts media attention. We must not forget the millions of workers employed in small businesses who equally suffer psychological trauma by workplace bullies but do not attract media attention.
Surely after 10 years, MP’s need to start acting again in order to bring in legislation, in line with other countries, to protect our workers and economy from the insidious bullying that is taking place every day in organisations up and down this country.
Tell us about your experiences and opinions. Do you think the UK has a problem with Workplace Bullying? Do you think that there should be legislation to protect our workers?
Support the Campaign To Introduce Legislation To Protect Workers and our Economy Against Workplace Bullying
Summary of Legislation and Policies enacted by counties other than the UK to protect Workers against Workplace Bullying
This blog summarises the approach taken by countries other than the UK to the issue of workplace bullying. This supplements the previous blogs which have looked at Germany, Spain, Sweden and France.
The following is taken from ‘International laws / When the abuser goes to work’ http://abusergoestowork.com/legislation.international-laws
NORWAY. In 2004, Norway’s Prime Minister launched a campaign against workplace bullying as part of the country’s Tripartite Agreement on an Inclusive Workplace.
THE NETHERLANDS: Since 1994, employers in The Netherlands have been legally obliged through the Working Conditions Act to protect their employees from psychological aggression in the workplace and their negative consequences, including mobbing/bullying.
LUXEMBOURG: Luxembourg signed its first collective agreement on moral harassment in 2001. More recently, in 2009, Luxembourg published a labour regulation that provides a general definition of the term ‘moral harassment’ that is not limited to harassment based on discrimination. The regulation provides that:
“Harassment occurs when a person belonging to a company commits wrongful, deliberate and repeated acts against a worker or manager of the company with the purpose or effect of: violating his or her rights or human dignity; altering his or her circumstances or working conditions or compromising his or her professional future by creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive work environment; or affecting his or her physical or psychological health.”
TURKEY: An employer must protect all employees from psychological abuse in the workplace pursuant to an amendment to Article 417 of the Debts law passed by the Turkish parliament in January 2011. The law makes it an offense to commit certain acts or fail to take action to prevent the commitment of acts such as verbal insults, belittling, and intentional isolation.
AUSTRALIA: Effective July 1, 2013, workers who believe they have been bullied can complain to the federal Fair Work Commission (FWC) , the nation’s national workplace relations tribunal. The FWC will deal with the matter as a priority. The FWC can issue an order in response to the complaint and/or refer the matter to the relevant state safety regulator. Perpetrators face civil penalties and fines ( up to approximately $34,000 American dollars). Bullying” is defined as “repeated, unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.” It does not include “reasonable management practices including performance management.”
BELGIUM: Belgium enacted legislation against moral harassment in 2002 which obliges companies to:
- set up an internal procedure to handle harassment complaints by employees;
- establish a plan for preventing the occurrence of violence and harassment at work;
- appoint a prevention adviser.
- Failure to develop a prevention policy or to assign a prevention advisor is punishable by criminal prosecution (imprisonment of up to one year) or administrative penalties and fines against the employer.
The following is taken from the Seminar on Workplace Bullying and Harassment, JILPT Report 2013 http://www.jil.go.jp/english/reports/documents/jilpt-reports/no.12.pdf
In the Work and Health Survey by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the prevalence of workplace bullying has been assessed every third year since 1997. In the survey, bullying is defined “Psychological violence and bullying at work means negative, oppressing and insulting treatment that is continuous and repetitive.”
Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002) came into operation on 1.1. 2003, and includes a special section on harassment and other inappropriate behaviour at work. The section on harassment is reactive by nature. Harassment and other inappropriate treatment are also mentioned in the general obligations for employees.(inEnglish:http://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset/2002/en20020738.pdf)
The Act obliges the employer/manager/supervisor to take action when he/she receives information about inappropriate treatment and bullying. If the perpetrator is the supervisor it is his/her superior who is to take action to investigate and resolve the situation.
If the employer doesn‘t take action the employee is advised to contact occupational safety and health authorities/ inspectors. The Occupational Safety and Health Act has been in force for ten years, and most employers are nowadays aware of the “Harassment” section, and their duties on the bases of the Act. Also safety and health representatives, shop stewards, occupational health care personnel, and most employees are familiar with the section on harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
The section on harassment in the new Occupational Safety and Health Act (1.1.2003) has activated organizations to develop and implement policies and guidelines for workplace bullying.
Safety and health inspectors discuss inappropriate behaviour and harassment always when they are carrying out an inspection in a workplace. Inspectors ask if any cases have taken place in the organization, about the existence of policy and procedures for inappropriate behavior and bullying, and about training on harassment and inappropriate behaviour. If there is no policy in place in the organization, the inspector advises the organization to draw up one. In inspections, a survey called VALMERI is used which includes also a question on harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
In the Finnish Quality of Work Life Survey 2008, the measures taken to eliminate or prevent workplace bullying at the workplace the most commonly observed measures were:
1) good treatment or elimination of bullying had been taken into consideration in
supervisory activity (45% of respondents),
2) prevention of bullying had been taken into account in occupational health and safety (39%), and
3) a set of rules for good treatment had been drawn up (33%) (Lehto & Sutela 2009).
Next week the blog will look at how these countrys’ laws and policies differ to the UK and the reasons given why UK politicians haven’t agreed to pass the Dignity at Work Bill even though it was passed by the House of Lords.
Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Dignity at Work Bill, legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying, workplace bullying in Australia, workplace bullying in Belgium, workplace bullying in Finland, workplace bullying in Netherlands, workplace bullying in Norway workplace bullying in Luxembourg, workplace bullying in Turkey, workplace bullying in UK, workplace harassment.
In Germany the Ministry Of Labour and Social Affairs on its website page, “Bullying at Work” states,
“Employers are obliged to protect their employees’ right of privacy and health. They must therefore prevent mobbing, act against employees who mob others and take all possible measures to prevent mobbing in their companies.”
The German Constitution provides protection of personality, honour health and equal rights of individuals. This is deemed to include the outlawing of bullying. The German Civil Code (GCC) provides a legal foundation for contractual liability and tort claims which can be extended to claims for bullying and stress at work.
In addition many businesses treat bullying as a violation of their collective work agreements and/or have implemented internal regulations to address work-related stress and harassment.
Within this general framework, there are three categories of bullying:
1. harassment that is not based on Protected Characteristics (called bullying or mobbing);
2. harassment that is based on Protected Characteristics; and
3. bullying as a criminal offence.
Isn’t it about time that the UK also treated bullying as a criminal offence regardless of any protected characteristics?
Next week the blog will look in detail at the legislation in Sweden to protect their workers. Sweden was the first country in the world to enact specific anti bullying legislation. Following that, the blog will summarise legislation in other countries around the world and look at the reasons why UK politicians have not accepted the Dignity at Work Bill to provide the workers in the UK the same protection.
Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged Bullying, bullying as a violation, constitution, contractual liability, Dignity at Work Bill, employment protection, Germany, Humiliation, intimidation, mobbing, outlawing of bullying, protection of personality, Stress, Stress at work, Sweden, workplace bullying in the UK.
The Dignity at Work Bill, which has been blocked by successive governments would have helped the people described in the stories on this blog, who have been victims of workplace bullying, to have got justice.
The Bill states that it is every employee’s right to have a right to dignity at work. The employee would not be allowed to suffer harassment or bullying or any conduct which causes him to be alarmed or distressed.
Such conduct would include for example, any offensive, abusive, malicious, insulting or intimidating behaviour that has happened on more than one ocassion; unjustified criticism on more than one occasion; any punishment imposed without reasonable justification.
An employer would not be allowed to treat any employee less favourably than any other person.
If this Bill had been passed by Parliament, the victims in these stories would have been able to seek redress at the Employment Tribunal. If the complainant’s case was upheld, the complainant could have expected compensation which may have also included an award for injury to feelings.
I think it is time that this Bill was looked at again and presented to Parliament.
Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK