Harassment and bullying in the workplace have shot to the top of the list of
Research published in IRS Employment Review, shows a huge increase in
harassment and bullying claims.
Last year, pay and grading issues were employees’ most common complaints,
with relatively few cases concerned with bullying or harassment.
Janet Egan, who carried out the research, said bullying may now top the list
of complaints because of a greater awareness of the issues. She said there was
"increasing encouragement and support for employees raising these types of
"We are surprised by the prominence of this issue as several
organisations operate separate bullying and harassment policies and procedures."
IRS warns employers that if complaints are not dealt with quickly and
efficiently, a worker with a grievance can quickly turn into an ex-employee
with a costly employment tribunal claim.
"User-friendly, prompt and effective formal grievance procedures are
essential to internal dispute resolution," Egan said.
She added that informal procedures are preferable if they can effectively
sort out disputes or complaints, such as those promoted by Acas.
"The consensus from our research seems to be: do have effective formal
complaints procedures in place, but try to resolve disputes informally
Based on 75 responses from HR managers across the private and public
sectors, the research shows that more than one in three organisations have seen
unresolved grievances lead to employment tribunal claims in the past three
It also shows that while six in 10 employers believe their policies meet the
requirements of the Employment Act 2002, at least four in 10 employers will
need to make changes to comply with the legislation.
By Quentin Reade
Top employee complaints – 2002
– Harassment/bullying 45%
– Discipline 27%
– New working practices 23%
– Grading 22%
– Discrimination 18%
– Work allocation/staffing levels 17%
– Non-pay terms and conditions 17%
– Pay 15%
– Health and safety 2%
Source: IRS Employment Review