Tim Field

A Reminder of what Workplace Bullying is.

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A Reminder of what Workplace Bullying is. Tim Field in his book Bully In Sight says that “after a victim has been bullied out of their job, the pain and separation that the victim experiences is similar to that felt following the death of a loved one. This is especially so if a) it is a position one has occupied for a long time, b) it is a job one loves and has made a success of, c) the job involves working with people (adults or children, especially the disadvantaged) and d) termination  is through dismissal enacted or contrived through bullying behaviour.”Some might find it offensive to equate loss of life with loss  of job, for one is replaceable, the other is clearly not. However, relative merit is not the issue – it is the effect that loss and severance has on the psyche which is the same……” “Victims of bullying often find that because they are ousted in unacceptable circumstances and through dubious practices, they don’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to their friends and colleagues; they are denied the opportunity to put their affairs in order, tie up loose ends and complete tasks in hand, designate successors and beneficiaries and collect their belongings.” This I concur. I worked with children, frequently disadvantaged children as well as adults and loved my career of 25 years. Although I was not dismissed, the false allegations made against me, damaging my reputation and future career prospects and the refusal of anyone to do anything about the perpetrators forced me to take early retirement. I know what it is like to grieve for a close relative who has passed away, and the pain and suffering due to the separation I was feeling from my career was similar. Reading this book helped me through this grieving process because I came to realize that my feelings were normal. I thought I must be crazy not being able to return to the place of work where I put in on average 55 hours a week. I left my belongings such as my own printer that I was using, electronic photograph album etc. I was unable to tidy up loose ends as Tim Field describes. Two years later I still cannot bring myself to drive past the building. From someone who has a very strong character, I couldn’t understand my feelings. Tim Field describes this as quite normal. We are lagging  behind America, Canada, Europe and Australia in terms of protecting our workers in the workplace. Its time the Trade Union Congress spoke up as well as the public and MP’s in order to stop this abhorrent practice. How come other continents recognize the serious harm of workplace bullying but the UK doesn’t. After all, evidence shows that it is rife in our workplaces. (see previous blogs) As Tim Field wrote on page 50, “ Statements such as ‘Why didn’t we tackle this before?’ will be familiar to those who have conquered denial in previous causes. Rape, discrimination, sexual harassment, child abuse, now workplace bullying – it’s as if society is picking off and ticking off these violational abuses one by one; perhaps the next millennium will be one of enlightened and pleasurable existence after all. In the meantime there is much to do and we must not be complacent.” We are 14 years into the next millennium and nothing is being done. Please speak up and say whether you think we should follow in other countries and continents examples by making workplace bullying illegal. Support the campaign to Introduce Legislation to protect Workers and our Economy against Workplace Bullying.


Workplace Bullying Still Alive and Kicking in the UK.

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On Friday 7th March 2014, it was reported in the Standard,  the BBC Director General, Tony Hall, said that the BBC has a bullying problem – but we are on top of it.

 “The findings of an investigation by Dinah Rose QC into BBC’s working environment, commissioned in the light of Jimmy Savile’s sex crimes and published in May, found broader issues of bullying and the inappropriate use of power of which sexual harassment is only one manifestation.”

“I want a culture where people can come to work and feel they are valued and don’t feel bullied. These are not easy things to deal with but we are working our way through that.” Tony Hall


However, on the 8th March 2014 it was reported in the Daily Mail that “after  senior executive was found guilty of bullying but then moved to what has been described as a plum job.”

The report went on to say, “Jim Buchanan, a news chief, received a written warning after a year long investigation upheld claims that he bullied and intimidated staff.

The complaints were said to be about verbal abuse and sending intimidating emails to colleagues.

But yesterday sources said Mr. Buchanan had been moved to another senior role, leading to criticism that the Corporation was again failing to take bullying claims seriously.”


Tim Field in his book, Bully In Sight, described how it was not unusual for the perpetrators of workplace bullying to be promoted while the victims suffered, receiving no justice.

It is clear to me, evidenced by the numerous reports in the media,  that without legislation this practice of workplace bullying is never going to end as employers are not going to take it seriously. Consequently, individuals and our economy will continue to suffer.

Support the campaign to Introduce Legislation to protect Workers and our Economy against Workplace Bullying.


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.

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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.

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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


The Absurdity of our Present Employment Law: See some examples

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Here is an example, given by Baroness Gibson, of the absurdity of our present law.

“I can best illustrate the absurdity and ambivalence of the law by telling the House of the experiences of two members of my previous union. A young man and a young woman worked in a London teaching hospital. Both received appalling treatment at the hands of their male supervisor by whom they were constantly undermined and their lives made a misery. The young woman’s bullying and denigration also included unwanted sexual advances. At the same time, the supervisor embarked on a campaign to humiliate and reduce the standing of the young man by a series of mean and malevolent acts.

They both went to the same internal appeal. The young woman was held to have been sexually harassed and the young man to have been bullied. Both sustained substantial financial losses as well as suffering emotionally. The young woman was advised that she had a sex discrimination claim which she lodged and eventually settled out of court. The young man had no legal basis for a claim and received no effective remedy for his very similar experiences. He would have had to leave his job had he wished to claim constructive dismissal, as I explained earlier. I believe that that highlights graphically why a new law is needed. If the Bill had been in place, both could have presented bullying cases and both could have received their just rewards.”

I can provide another similar example which shows the absurdity of our present law. In this particular case the bullying involved “Blocking promotion or progress within the workplace.” ACAS

Governors from a Local Authority School requested support from a Local Authority Officer to help them with their Head Teacher process and interview which can take months to complete. At the same time a number of Local Authority Officers were being made redundant due to cut backs.  The Head Teacher vacancy was advertised and the school received a number of applicants which included the Acting Head Teacher, Local Authority Officers who were due to be made redundant (colleagues of the LA Officer who was ‘supporting’ the governors) and there were other well qualified applicants from other schools. When it came to the short listing the only people to be shortlisted were the Acting Head Teacher and the colleagues of the LA Officer who were due to be made redundant. During the interview process the school governors became aware that the LA Officer, who was supposed to be impartial (according to the Nolan Principles), was trying to put pressure on the school governors to appoint the LA Officer’s  favoured candidate. Hence, not only were the Nolan Principles not being adhered to but also this LA Officer was trying to block the promotion of certain candidates.

Luckily in this case, the governors became aware of what the LA Officer was trying to do and made a complaint to her line manager. No action was taken against the LA Officer. She continued to ‘support’ school governors at other schools.

A couple years later, an Acting Head Teacher of another school (School A) came into conflict with the same LA Officer because of a statement that the LA Officer made about the school to the Local Council. The statement contradicted a statement the LA Officer had previously made to the Acting Head Teacher.

The school governors of school A advertised the post for the substantive Head Teacher. The same LA Officer was used to ‘support’ the governors in the interview process which took 3 months. This was during the time that the LA Officer and the Acting Head Teacher were in conflict. The Acting Head Teacher was short listed with a few other candidates. The female  Acting Head Teacher was not appointed. The successful candidate was male and had been an Acting Head Teacher at a previous school (School B)  that had gone into special measures. The governors at that school (School B) did not interview him for the position of the substantive post. There is perhaps reason to understand why.

Members of staff and staff governors at school A, were concerned about the LA Officer’s lack of impartiality regarding the process for the Head Teacher interview. A grievance was raised and it was discovered that

  • a bizarre scoring process had been set up for the various interview tasks. For example, a 10 minute conversation with 3 children aged from 9 to 11 was given equal importance  as the half hour professional interviews with governors on leadership and school standards.
  •  The LA Officer did not follow or inform the governors accurately the guidelines set down by the LA regarding Head Teacher interviews.
  • The LA Officer did not inform the governors at the short listing stage that a candidate, which ended up being the successful candidate had previously been an Acting Head Teacher of a school that went into special measures. This, the LA Officer was legally bound to do.
  • The governors on the interviewing panel told the governing body that the successful candidate was appointed based solely on the scores. When the scores were looked at, the successful candidate did better on tasks such as the 10 minute conversation with 3 children, a 10 minute school assembly and a presentation entitled, ‘Washed up on a desert island and given 3 wishes.’ Staff accused the LA Officer of not acting impartially during these tasks and trying to manipulate the scoring.
  • The successful candidate however did not do well in the half hour interview on leadership and the school budget task, which most people would consider to be more important and should receive heavier weighting in terms of scores.
  • School A the previous year, had been given a ‘Good’ with outstanding features by an Ofsted inspection with Good capacity for further improvement . 15 months after the male candidate had been in post, the school went into special measures.

The Acting Head teacher of School A felt that she had been discriminated against because of the conflict over the allegation the LA officer made about the school to the local council in order to support the LA management’s plans for change.

As Time Field wrote

“You have foolishly dared to disagree with the bully or drawn attention to the absurdity or illogicality or the bully’s way of managing or have the temerity to point out the foolhardiness, impracticability, short sightedness and equableness of management’s plans for change and will now be subjected to (bullying) behaviours. The bully realizes that total control over the victim will never be possible and therefore the only way forward is to eliminate the offending individual.

The Acting Head Teacher believes this describes why she was discriminated against. Yet, defending the school was the Acting Head Teacher’s job.

If she had claimed discrimination on the grounds of gender, a protected characteristic, she would have had grounds to go to an Employment Tribunal. Because she believed   she was discriminated against on the grounds of the professional conflict regarding planned changes to the school, she had no grounds, yet suffered the same mistreatment and detriment as if it had been on grounds of gender discrimination. A complaint was made to the governors and to senior level in the Local Authority and again no action was taken.

In the first example I gave above, the Head Teacher was being discriminated against  not because of a protected characteristic but because the LA Officer wanted to enable her colleagues, to get a job. Luckily in that instance, the discrimination didn’t succeed because of the awareness of the governors. If it had, that particular Acting Head Teacher would have had no grounds to take to an Employment Tribunal because it was not based on a protected characteristic, even though she too would have suffered the same treatment and detriment as if she had been discriminated against based on one of the protected characteristics.

I would argue that the behaviour of the LA officer amounts to misconduct. This brings me to  Tim Field and his book ‘Bully in Sight,’

He would class this type of behaviour as ‘corporate bullying.’ “He states on page 182 that some contributory factors that could be loosely termed as corporate bullying include such things as when bullying is reported, there is an unwillingness to admit that those responsible for recruitment and promotion could possibly have made a mistake.” This appeared to the Acting Head Teacher of School A, the stance the governors took when she raised a grievance.

“If there have been previous complaints or investigations – there are uncomfortable questions of competence, negligence and liability”  This appeared to the Acting Head Teacher,  the stance the LA took, as according to her,  the LA denied knowing about any such previous complaint.

“dismissal of evidence, regardless of value or quantity” The Acting Head Teacher provided a great deal of evidence which was ignored and the governors and LA provided a great deal of contradictory evidence which was not questioned.

Tim Field also went on to say that corporate bullying is also characterized by “an unwillingness to admit that anything could be wrong; a cover-up culture; and an unwillingness to address bullying.”  The Acting Head teacher of school A felt that this described her experience when trying to get her grievance / complaint heard.

No action was taken in either of these examples against the LA Officer. A great deal of time and money was used to investigate which came out of the public purse as the Local Authority is a public body.  Yet there is no impartial body to take such a complaint to. As bullying and discrimination based on non protected characteristics  are not illegal, there are no grounds to take to an Employment  Tribunal. The Local Government Ombudsman also has no remit to look at such complaints.

I believe these examples support Baroness Gibson’s argument for the reason to legislate against bullying in the workplace and to widen the scope of discrimination and not just base discrimination on protected characteristics. I also believe that there should be an impartial body to investigate misconduct by public officers such as the Local Government Ombudsman.

As Tim Field wrote in Bully In Sight

“Over the decades, precedents have been set, including discrimination (based on protected characteristics) sexual harassment and child abuse. In each case, there was initial resistance and reluctance to act, but now respect for others, especially those who differ from society’s currently accepted ‘norm’, is incorporated into human knowledge and where appropriate enshrined in law.

It is time for bullying at work to join the list.

Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers and our economy against workplace bullying.

The Dignity at Work Partnership estimated that the cost of workplace bullying in 2007 was £17.65 billion

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The Dignity at Work Partnership estimated that the cost of workplace bullying in 2007 was £17.65 billion

“The serial bully who in my estimation accounts for about 1 person in 30 in society, is the single most important threat to the effectiveness of organisations, the profitability of industry, the performance of the economy and the prosperity of society” Tim Field, Bullyonline December 1999  www.bullyonline.org/workbully.quotes.htm

The Dignity at Work partnership carried out detailed research of the costs of bullying for the year  2007. Using statistics taken from the Office of National Statistics, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Unison, Health and Safety Executive and many others; the following was concluded;

33.5 million working days were lost by UK organisations due to bullying related absenteeism

£3.06 billion was the cost of bullying related absenteeism

199,375 employees left organisations as a result of bullying

£1.5 billion was the total cost of the turnover of staff due to bullying

100  million days productivity was lost due to bullying

£9.14 billion was the total cost of bullying related to the loss in productivity

TOTAL COST = £13.75 Billion in 2007 (£3.06 B + £1.5 B + £9.14B)

Other costs however include such things as the costs to the criminal justice system (Employment Tribunals etc)

Welfare – the state may have to take on payments for long term sickness

Premature and ill health retirement (loss of National health contributions)

Costs of 3rd party interventions (eg ACAS)

The Dignity at Work Partnership went on to say in their report,

“Adopting Gordon and Risley’s (1999) approach who suggested that the cost of bullying to society is in the region of 1.4% – 2% of the Gross National Product (GDP) and taking 2004 GDP estimates of £1176.5 Billion (National Statistics 2007) we can estimate that a 1.5% reduction in overall UK productivity would result in a financial cost of £17.65 billion.

It is quite clear therefore that bullying is not only costly to each individual who is a victim of bullying but also to society at large.

CIPD reported on the 10th February 2014 that the Government is launching ‘The Health and Work Service’ in order to cut the cost of long term absences by offering a helpline and non-compulsory medical assessments. The Government disclosed that it could cut ill health costs for employers by as much as £70m a year. (BBC news 9  February 2014). Compare this figure of £70 million to £17.65 billion.

I consider this £70 million a drop in the ocean compared to what could be saved, £17.65 billion if bullying was made illegal and the impact of bullying in the workplace was taken seriously by our policy makers.

Imagine what improvements could be made to our public services and everybody’s standard of living if  an extra £17.65 billion every year  was added to our Gross National product.

What are your thoughts?

Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK

Time for a Change in the Law

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Tim Field, in his book “ Bully in Sight” states that bullying is widespread. Research carried out by Cardiff University and Plymouth University found that just over half of their sample had experienced ill-treatment in the workplace. Paul Suff and Marie Strebler in ‘Bullying and Harassment – Building a Culture of Dignity and Respect’ www.employment-studies.co.uk found that 29% of their respondents were bullied by colleagues with whom they worked with directly. Bullying is therefore a common feature of the British workplace but unlike some European countries, bullying is not illegal. Ministers believe that present employment law and the means of redress through the Tribunal system is adequate.

I could do nothing to address the bullying /misconduct I experienced by the Public Officers which resulted in my early retirement. I followed the complaints procedure but just like so many others I have spoken to, the outcome did not match the evidence I had. Suff and Strebler found that only 3% of their respondents felt their actions had solved the problem. The investigation carried out by an investigator who was in a subordinate position to the Public Officers who I was complaining about, did not speak with me or any of my witnesses and therefore did not look at any evidence. The investigator’s report which was accepted by a senior Public Official, was therefore biased and contradictory. I  made a further complaint regarding the investigation, but the response did not answer any of the issues I raised. I offered to meet face to face on more than one occasion but this was always ignored. Tim Field states in his book “Bully In Sight,” “In avoiding face-to-face contact in this manner, the bully is revealing both fear and reluctance to accept responsibility for the actions they are currently pursuing.”

As I was complaining about Public Officers, I went to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). After looking at all my evidence, the LGO investigator phoned me apologising as my issue was outside his remit. I wrote to Brandon Lewis MP, undersecretary for Communities and Local Government suggesting an Ombudsman to look into Misconduct of Public Officers. The reply was to follow the Grievance Procedure and if this was unsatisfactory to seek redress through an Employment Tribunal which the Government feels is adequate to deal with workplace malpractices. However bullying continues to be legal and therefore there are no grounds to take to an Employment Tribunal.

Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief of Police Officers, in the light of the Plebgate affair involving Andrew Mitchell MP. has called for a public debate regarding the creation of an Ombudsman to look into misconduct of Police Officers (Guardian 16 October 2013). I believe that there should be an Ombudsman to look into the Misconduct of all Public Officers who are subject to the offence of ‘Misconduct in a Public Office’ particularly as the full cost of bullying in the public sector is borne by the taxpayer. As Tim Field states, “Whether in teaching, nursing or local or national government, the Audit Commission should have an interest in the drain on the public purse that bullying imposes, particularly with regard to employers who support the bully and choose to defend tribunals and court actions.”

Consequently I am fuelled with a sense of injustice that those who bullied me and ended my career are still employed and have not received any disciplinary procedures. Like all other bullied victims, I too suffered typical stress symptoms resulting in high blood pressure, change in sleeping and eating patterns, panic attacks, sense of isolation and unworthiness. I became obsessive, having to constantly talk about my situation which eventually impacted upon relationships with family and friends. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD 2005b) has listed many of the physical and psychological symptoms caused by bullying. It is also now recognised that exposure to bullying can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rennie Peyton (2003)

I now have a desire to bring about change in order to seek justice for all UK employees whose life, family and health have been turned upside down by these bullies who are presently protected by the UK justice system.

Laws are now in place to protect people against sexual harassment and discrimination on the grounds of race, disability etc. “ In each case there was initial resistance and reluctance to act, but now respect  for others, especially those who differ from society’s currently accepted ‘norm’ is incorporated into human knowledge and, where appropriate, enshrined in law.” Tim Field

It is now time to protect hard working  people by having Dignity at Work also enshrined in law.

I need as many stories and experiences as possible so if you are one of the many UK employees who have been ill treated in the workplace, please share your story.

Support the campaign to introduce legislation to protect workers against workplace bullying in the UK