Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

There's No Room for the Bullies

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

There's No Room for the Bullies

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stephen Elliott

Bullying in the workplace is an increasing problem. Stephen Elliott outlines the legal position for employees who feel they have been victimised.

Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, recently announced a Government-led pounds 1.8m campaign to end workplace bullying.

Estimates show that around 13.5 million working days are lost annually as a result of stress, depression and anxiety.

Government studies also suggest that around five million employees believe they are exposed to workplace stress. Bullying in the workplace will undoubtedly have contributed to these figures, and is an increasing problem for employers.

New regulations which came into force in 2003 now prohibit harassment or victimisation on the grounds of religion, religious belief or sexual orientation which means that there is an even wider capacity for potential bullying at work and an increased risk of claims for employers.

The new Government campaign is in conjunction with the trade union, Amicus, which is contributing almost half of the funding for the initiative.

Amicus is preparing an extensive report on workplace bullying which will be relevant to employees and to employers.

Employers will be able to gain a voluntary charter if they offer "dignity at work" and the trade union will be working with some of Britain's largest employers to prepare guidance to assist them.

As part of the initiative, employees will be offered advice and training to assist them in counselling colleagues and in investigating and identifying bullying.

During her speech, Patricia Hewitt highlighted the tragic case of Hannah Kirkham an 18-year-old who killed herself after being persistently bullied by colleagues at the fast food bar where she worked.

The case of 19-year-old, Scott English, was also highlighted. Scott, who had genetic dwarfism had been put on shelf stacking duties in a supermarket. His employer did not provide him with a ladder so he had to climb shelves to put goods on display, humiliating him in front of fellow staff and customers. He won his case for discrimination in an employment tribunal. …

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