Ireland battles rising bullying complaints

Bullying behaviour in the workplace causes stress and frustration for employees

Bullying in the workplace is on the rise in Ireland, according to a new report released on August 17.

The Minister for Labour Affairs established an expert advisory group on workplace bullying a year ago and asked that the group table a report on the issue.

The group wasn’t able to distinguish if the actual incidence of bullying was increasing or if more people were reporting bullying behaviour because of the increasing awareness of the problem.

Regardless, there have been more complaints, higher levels of workplace stress, great frustration with a lack of formal channels for resolving complaints and an increased burden on all parties to resolve disputes.

The report also found that existing measures to tackle the problem are insufficient and that employers and the State need to act quickly to alleviate the problem and the effects of bullying on employees.

The report echoes the findings of a British survey completed by employment law firm Peninsula and released on July 29 that found employers aren’t taking complaints of bullying seriously.

The survey found that about one fifth of workers had registered complaints with their boss about offensive jokes, but felt their complaints weren’t taken seriously.

More than two thirds of employees said they wished their bosses would do more to tackle workplace harassment and said that workplace jokes often lead to bullying behaviour.

The Irish report recommends that legislation, which would apply to all employees in the workforce irrespective of employment status, be brought forward to deal with workplace bullying.

The legislation would make dealing with incidents of bullying at the workplace a mandatory requirement for workplace safety and if the complaints can’t be resolved through an employer’s normal dispute resolution procedure, they would then be referred to the Labour Relations Commission.

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