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When you think of bullying, what image does it conjure up for you? A child being teased in the school playground, perhaps? Sadly, of course, bullying can occur at any age – it can take the form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, for example. And whilst this year may have seen a dramatic change in where, when and how many of us now work, it is important to be aware of the fact that bullying in the workplace can still be a very real problem, even when working from home.
Anti-Bullying Week is an annual event organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance which aims to educate people about the long-lasting effects of bullying and the ways in which we can tackle the problem. This year the event runs from Monday 16th to Friday 20th November and the Occupational Healthcare experts at YourGP have decided to lend their support to the campaign by highlighting the issue of bullying in the workplace – more specifically the remote workplace – so that employers and employees alike can look out for the warning signs, step in and stamp it out.
Is bullying against the law?
Bullying itself is not against the law, however if a member of staff is behaving in an intimidating or offensive way, it could be classed as harassment, which is illegal under the Equality Act 2010.
Employers have a duty of care when it comes to safeguarding their employees’ health and wellbeing, and this responsibility is not waived simply because their employees are now working from home, rather than in an office.
What is classed as bullying behaviour?
Bullying can take a variety of forms but can be defined as a person systematically belittling or humiliating another, repeatedly intending to hurt someone either physically or emotionally, or creating a working environment that is intimidating, effecting that person’s safety or well-being.
How can bullying take place remotely?
With many offices now operating remotely, it may be harder to detect bullying in the workplace and more difficult for those suffering to speak up about the problem. Common issues include repetitive harsh emails, monitoring log-ins and micro-managing on an excessive level, or being systematically excluded from video calls for example.
How can you protect your team?
Your organisation should have a clear anti-bullying policy and all staff should be made aware of what is, and what is not classed as acceptable behaviour in the workplace. If your team has recently switched to working from home, this anti-bullying policy should be updated to include information relating to professional conduct on emails and video calls, for example.
What to do if you witness bullying in the workplace
The lasting effects of bullying in the workplace
Sadly, even when cases of bullying in the workplace have been resolved, the effects can be long-lasting. Here at YourGP we have treated patients suffering anxiety, panic attacks and depression, which can be traced back to being bullied at work. And this is why it so important to be mindful of the issue and tackle it wherever and whenever you can.
Protect your workplace
If you’re interested in finding out how to ensure your organisation is a safe and welcoming place for all, talk to the Occupational Healthcare experts at YourGP. Simply call 0131 225 5656 or email email@example.com to make an appointment and they’ll be happy to guide you through ways in which you can protect the health and mental wellbeing of your team.
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