Harassment bullies its way to top of employee complaints list

Harassment
or bullying in the workplace has shot to the top of the list of complaints
raised by employees, according to research published today in IRS Employment
Review.

Last
year pay and grading issues were employees’ most common complaints.  Relatively few cases were provoked by
bullying or harassment.

As
part of a wider survey into dispute resolution in the workplace, 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.

The
key findings of the research 
conducted in July 2002 – are based on 75 responses from human resource managers
across the private and public sectors.

Findings
include: 


More than one in three organisations have seen unresolved grievances culminate
in an employment tribunal claim within the past three years;


Approximately six in 10 employers believe their policies meet the requirements
of the Employment Act 2002, but at least four in 10 employers will need to make
changes to comply with the legislation;


About half of the respondents have a single formal written procedure covering
both individual and collective disputes initiated by employees – while around a
third operate an individual procedure only and just one in six have two
separate procedures in place;

Top
complaints raised by employees – 2002

           Harassment/bullying – 45%

           Discipline – 27%

           New working practices – 23%

           Grading – 22%

           Discrimination – 18%

           Work allocation/staffing levels

           Non-pay terms and conditions – both
at 17%

           Pay – 15%

           Health and safety – 2%

Janet
Egan, who carried out the research for IRS Employment Review, said: “Bullying
now tops the list of complaints perhaps as a result of greater awareness of
these issues and the increasing encouragement and support for employees raising
these types of concerns.

"We
are surprised by the prominence of this issue in light of the fact that several
organisations operate separate bullying and harassment policies and procedures.
Clearly, user-friendly, prompt and effective formal grievance procedures are
essential to the process of internal dispute resolution. But it’s also worth
remembering that, as Acas recommends, the use of informal procedures to sort
out disputes or complaints wherever possible is preferable.

"The
consensus from our research seems to be: do have effective formal complaints
procedures in place but first try to resolve disputes informally.”

By Ben Willmott

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