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Zero Tolerance For Bullies

Updated December 12 2008 - A recent survey conducted by TUC workplace safety reports found that bullying was a concern at work for one in five safety reps (20%) - up significantly since the 2006 survey (16%). In 2004, only 12% of safety reps had reported bullying as a concern at work.

According to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber:

"Concerns about bullying at work have increased by 25 per cent since 2006. And as the economic downturn puts workers under greater strain, there is a danger that bullying could spread even further.

"There is simply no excuse for bullying at work. It can leave people traumatised, unable to work and unhappy after work, and harms office morale too. We urge employers to look at their working culture and policies to ensure that whenever bullying rears its head at work, it is stamped out straight away."

Ironically, in 2002 a report by The Work Foundation stated that the UK workplace was increasingly becoming a zero tolerance zone for bullies.

The report - Employee Codes of Conduct - showed that 8 out of 10 organizations responding to the Work Foundation's survey had adopted codes of conduct on bullying and harassment. Such codes were then relatively new initiatives in UK workplaces, but it seemed that they were taken seriously: one third of respondents said that workers breaking the code would be sacked. A mere 6% would give an informal warning.

One third (32%) of respondents also considered codes on bullying to be a priority for a well-run workplace, together with work safety (41%) and corporate confidentiality (33%).

The survey was based on a total of 277 questionnaires from HR and personnel specialists in October 2001. The report also contained best practice case studies.

The Work Foundation's Angela Ishmael gave evidence on workplace bullying at a House of Lords seminar on The Dignity at Work Bill. She said:

"Not so long ago bullying was seen by many organisations as little more than a challenging and forceful work style. It is good to see that the tide is turning, and that employers are more committed to creating work environments where employees no longer need to work in fear.

"Codes of conduct are a useful litmus test of the quality of management. To make the UK workplace a genuinely bully free zone, such initiatives need backing from the top, supportive colleagues, managers who will help people to raise their concerns, and a responsible work culture which tackles the causes and consequences of bullying and harassment before individuals are victimised and jobs are lost."


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