Bullying and harassment – is it on the increase?

What is bullying and harassment? Both these terms are used interchangeably, and many definitions include bullying as a form of harassment.
In general terms, bullying and harassment is unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of people in the workplace, and may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or any personal characteristic of the individual, and may be persistent or an isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient. A recent ACAS study published in November 2015 found that bullying is on the increase in the workplace and in Britain, and people are afraid to speak out.
Bullying and harassment in the workplace can have a negative impact on your mental health and your performance at work. If you ever feel that you are suffering from bullying and harassment, your manager/s have a ‘Duty of Care’ to you to ensure that any kind of bullying and harassment stops immediately and that they take punitive action against those responsible if your allegations are substantiated. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect at work. Bullying and harassment of any kind is in no-one’s interest and should not be tolerated in the workplace. If you feel you are being bullied or harassed, you may not know what to do about it. Always seek help and advice about what to do.
If you ever feel that you are on the receiving end of such behaviour, you should always make a detailed account of every incident that occurs, to include the time and location, what was said, the staff member/s involved and whether there were any witnesses who may be able to support your claim. This helps to ensure that you have a comprehensive record of any detrimental treatment you have suffered. Try to make your notes immediately after the incident, so that your recollection of the incident is accurate as possible. Avoid making notes days after the incident to help ensure the alleged incident is fresh in your mind. This is essential to help maintain clarity of mind of any detrimental treatment, and to assist the investigating officer. It’s a good idea to record at least three incidents of bullying and harassment to help you demonstrate that there is a pattern in behaviour.
Raise your concerns with the appropriate manager, as soon as possible and submit all of your evidence to support your claim. Print and keep hard copies of any emails you feel are relevant. Store all of the evidence you have in chronological order. If you would like to go the extra mile for some additional certainty, you can always compare the treatment you have suffered with any legal definitions of bullying and harassment in the workplace by visiting https://www.gov.uk/workplace-bullying-and-harassment
Prior to any meeting, please feel free to ask the investigating officer whether they would consider making notes of your discussions and/or that they attend the meeting with a note taker. If somebody at the meeting is taking notes, ensure that you are happy with the content of any notes taken before they become an official record of discussions of the meeting. You can also ask for a copy of the notes made. In any formal meeting, we would always advise that you are represented by a trade union official, a representative from a self-organised employee group. A work colleague can attend, but a trade union official is a better option. You should notify your manager if you decide to attend the meeting with a representative/companion.
When you are on the receiving end of any detrimental treatment, you may often feel intimidated, stressed, upset or angry. Try to keep a calm and collected attitude during the meeting. The investigating officer hearing your grievance should hopefully appreciate your approach. Your behaviour ‘can’ affect the outcome.
Ideally, try to have your concerns addressed informally. Doing so saves a lot of time and effort for all parties concerned, and will also reduce any stress you may incur. If you feel that the treatment you have suffered merits you raising an official grievance, you should read Camden’s Grievance Policy and Procedure. Nobody should have to raise a grievance, although in some instances, doing so is necessary. Thoroughly reading the Grievance Policy and Procedure prior to raising any grievance is essential. This will help you to understand what to expect and how to prepare accordingly. Please visit Camden Essentials at http://camden-essentials.lbcamden.net/ccm/content/working-at-camden/your-employment/your-issues-and-concerns/raising-a-greivance.en?page=1
We recommend that you read all of the information contained under the above link in order to comply with Camden’s procedures.
Raising a grievance is quite a stressful process. Even the accused, the investigating officer and HR can find the process very stressful. Being aware of this fact may help you to remain calm and courteous during the meeting. There are set timeframes with regards to receiving an outcome. If and when you raise an official grievance, waiting for the outcome can add to your stress. Please be mindful that the grievance investigating officer has a day job at Camden, and was simply asked to investigate a grievance. In order for the investigating officer to thoroughly investigate your grievance, the time in which it takes to receive an outcome may on occasions exceed the timeframe specified in the Grievance Policy and Procedure. The length of time waiting for your outcome is very much dependent on the complexity of your grievance. Raising an official grievance is an effective way to help ensure that if you have a legitimate complaint, that the matter is investigated. You will also have a documented outcome, which may assist you if you are not satisfied after the investigation is concluded. Please do not feel afraid to raise a grievance, as Camden has a Grievance Policy and Procedure in place to help protect you, and sometimes you may need to use the official channels to help ensure the outcome is satisfactory.
CBWG is an inclusive group, embracing* Black and all ethnic strands of the work force.
If you have any concerns, you can seek advice from the Camden Black Workers Group (CBWG) which is supported by UNISON. Please feel free to contact CBWG through UNISON on 0207 974 1633. We are aware this is an issue that can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or personal characteristics.
Don’t suffer in silence:
You can speak to a colleague, seek advice from your local rep or contact the branch office. Keep a diary to record the nature of the bullying and when it occurred or make a formal complaint.
*Black: in this context ‘Black’ is used to indicate people with shared history. ‘Black’, with a capital B is used in a broad political and inclusive sense to describe people in the UK who have a shared past history, and have suffered diminished opportunities in today’s society. ‘Black’ is not about colour, it’s about empowerment. It’s about heritage. It’s about self-definition.

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