Pressure mounts for anti-bullying law

TUC general secretary John Monks has called for legislation to outlaw
workplace bullying following the publication of a report claiming that one in
10 people is being bullied at work.

Monks said he wants to see the Government clamp down on bullies through a
dignity at work Bill.

The study, backed by the CBI and TUC, was carried by Professor Cary Cooper
and Helge Hoel, of Umist.

One in four people questioned said they have been bullied in the past five
years. It reinforces findings from Personnel Today’s own survey that found at
least four out of 10 organisations do not have an anti-bullying policy. It also
found HR professionals to be particularly vulnerable, with more than seven out
of 10 having experienced bullying.

But Richard Wilson, of the Institute of Directors, said framing and
implementing future legislation is fraught with difficulty.

"It is going to be very difficult," he said. "For example,
how do you distinguish between times when people do need to be criticised and
encouraged to do better, and occasions when people are being treated in an
unacceptable fashion?

Wilson said he believes the threat of an industrial tribunal is the best way
to deter bullies.

"The number of cases taken to industrial tribunals has been increasing.
I believe there will be a further significant increase in applications to them
because of the new rights the Government has brought in for employees."

The survey, Destructive Interpersonal Conflict and Bullying at Work, is
based on a random national survey of 5,300 people from around 70 organisations.

It also found that people who are bullied take about six days off sick over
a six-month period compared with half that figure for those not being bullied.

By Helen Rowe

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