Bullying in the workplace; a complex issue for Employers.

An interesting article by Katherine Graham called When Did Bullying Stop Being Something that Only Happened in the Playground? Was just published.

Katherine points out that when Health and Safety reps were asked what is the most common issues they deal with they said that stress came top, bullying and harassment next. Bullying in the public sector (in the UK )in particular – cited by 80% of reps as their biggest challenge.

Very few large organisations appear to succeed in avoiding bullying in the workplace. Recently a BBC Newsnight investigation into a culture of bullying and abuse of power over House of Commons staff continues to sent shockwaves around the entire organisation.

The employer is in a very tricky position when it comes to bullying. If they come down to hard on the employee accused of bullying things might get worse and lead to a constructive dismissal claim. Various practices and procedures have to be adhered to and it is very hard for the employer or human resource manager to manage the situation without potentially making it worse.
Katherine makes the point in her article that –” Organisations need to open up, encourage more honesty, more conversations that deal with root issues of power and inequality – in other words, making constructive challenge a normal and healthy part of the workplace culture. HR need to ask whether their systems and approach are fair and just, do they lead to the kind of confidence that encourages a victim to come forward.”


More and more employers are choosing Mediation as early intervention when disputes arise in the workplace. Why? Well its cheaper, easier, can contribute to staff moral and avoid the risks of Employment Appeals Tribunal or Rights Commissioner Applications or the Labour Court. Most employers find the Rights Commissioner very pro employee and seek to avoid ending up there. Workplace Mediation needs to be dealt with sensitivity and with knowledge of the legal position so that any legal action can be avoided.
In most workplace Meditations the Mediator is asked to work through the dispute with a view to getting everyone back to full productivity as fast as possible. Sometimes the relationship has broken down and an agreement is requested about the terms on which the employee leaves, this sometimes involves a settlement.

Common workplace disputes involve

Sexual harassment,
Stressed workers,
Unfair treatment within the organisation
Complaints regarding breach of terms of employment .
Complaints regarding failures under the legislation.
Workplace injury
Working time regulations,
Threats with strike action or other industrial action such as work to rule.
Breach of equality legislation.
Contractual issues.
Work Permits.
Safety at work and safe systems of Work.

As every experienced employer knows unhappy staff means less productivity and higher turnover of staff.


Employers must be aware of the Legal obligation to provide Terms of Employment under the Terms of Employment (Information )Acts 1994-2014, the duties include to provide employees with certain information relating issues such as rate of pay, job description, hours of work and a contract of employment.
Other relevant legislation is the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 and the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts 1973-2005. In terms of Industrial Relations there is The Industrial Relations (Amendment )Act 2015. This deals with issues such as REAs or Registered Employment Agreements and Sectoral Employment, Orders or SEOs. The Organisation of Working time (Records) (prescribed form and Exemptions )Regulations 2001 deal with issues such as Annual leave,maximum working hours, hours worked, public holidays. Then there is Maternity Leave Protection (Amendment Act) 2004 and the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016
Additional pieces of legislation are the Carer’s Leave Act 2001, the Safety, Heath and Welfare at work Act 2005 and the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967-2014 and the Unfair Dismissal Acts 1977-2015. Now there is the Irish Human Right and equality Commission who provide information in this area.

In relation to work permits the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation provides information in Employment Permits under the Employment Permits(Amendment)Regulations 2018. The workplace Relations Act 2015 established the Workplace Relations Commission.

Susan Appelbe works solely as a Mediator now however worked as a solicitor for many years so has a unique insight into conflict management in the workplace and the laws surrounding employment.
Susan when working as a solicitor represented clients at Employment Appeals Tribunals and worked extensively with issue such as unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal and redundancy payments and all manner of contractual issues that arise under employment. Susan also has been an employer herself so has an insight into the management of staff along with the legislation surrounding the subject.

Susan runs a Nationwide Mediation practice, she regularly does work in town around Cork County such as Youghal, Mitchelstown,Fermoy,Charleville,Dunmanway, Skibbereen and Castletownbere. Susan also does work in all counties but in particular Munster counties Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Tipperary Limerick and Clare.

By | 2019-01-31T11:57:35+00:00 January 31st, 2019|Uncategorised|0 Comments

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