Bullying in the Workplace – The Importance of Training

Posted in : Supplementary Articles ROI on 6 October 2021
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Bullying in the workplace, Discrimination, Harassment, Equality, Training

The Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work came into effect on the 23rd  December 2020 and from that date, it replaced the Code of Practice entitled “Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work” which was issued by the HSA in  March 2007 in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the “Code of Practice Detailing Procedures for Addressing Bullying in the Workplace” issued by the then Labour Relations Commission LRC (now WRC) in 2002 in accordance with section 42 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.

This Code applies to all employees in Ireland irrespective of whether employees work at a fixed location, at home or are mobile and provides guidance for employers and employees on identifying and preventing bullying at work. The importance of effective training is emphasised throughout the Code which highlights the benefits that appropriate training for both employees and managers can have in helping to identify, prevent and deal with bullying in the workplace where it occurs.

For the purposes of the Code, bullying in the workplace is defined as:

"repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could be reasonably regarded as undermining the individual's right to dignity at work".

The Code goes on to highlight what could be viewed as bullying at work and importantly what is not viewed as bullying in the workplace. Managers can often be criticised as bullying employees when they are in effect utilising management techniques to manage performance and behaviours. Dr Gerry McMahon outlines how to ensure performance management is not bullying in a recent article which is available here. A recent webinar with the HR Suite’s Caroline Reidy outlines how employers should manage performance effectively and this is available here.

Informal resolution is a key element of managing bullying and the Code details two roles that can be effective in nipping issues in the bud before they become a formal complaint.  The roles are that of an initial Contact Person who acts as the first step for anyone enquiring about a potential bullying issue, and a Nominated Person, who manages the complaint and attempts to resolve the matter between the parties, at this secondary informal stage. Again, Dr Gerry McMahon has written two excellent articles on the role of the Contact Person here and the role of the Nominated Person here.

The Code emphasises again the importance of the individuals undertaking these informal resolution roles to be given appropriate training to do so. Helpfully, the recently developed eLearning course from Legal Island, Workplace Bullying has been specifically developed for all employees, enabling organisations to help to raise awareness of bullying in the workplace and explain what to do if employees are concerned about bullying. This 45-minute course, developed in association with Leman Solicitors, is a cost-effective training solution and can be completed at a time to suit an individual employee’s personal circumstances and working hours. You can find out more about the training here or get a quote for your organisation by contacting debbie@legal-island.com.

In addition, we have also developed specific e-learning programmes for Contact Persons and Nominated Persons to help clarify their role and outline their responsibilities in helping to deal with potential bullying complaints informally. You can get a free demo of the Contact Person training here and the Nominated Person training here. Together these three courses will help organisations get to grips with their new responsibilities under the Code of Practice and help create a bullying free workplace.

For any further information on any of these or other legal island courses, please contact Debbie@legal-island.com.


This article is correct at 06/10/2021

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

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