Friday, 29 September 2006

Bullying must be stopped

Shropshire employers must protect their staff from bullying in the workplace or face substantial compensation claims.

The warning comes from John Mehtam, Employment Law Specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford.

“There have been several high profile cases lately where employers were found to be guilty of failing to protect staff from ongoing bullying, and the employees involved have received large amounts of compensation.

“It’s important that employers are on their guard for any signs of bullying in the workplace, as cases like this raise the profile of the issue, and it’s likely that there will be an increase in the number of claims against company bosses.”

John said under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, employees also now had more time to launch a case.

“Under discrimination laws, employees have to bring a claim within three months of leaving their job, and for many people this is just too soon and they feel unable to take action because they are mentally and emotionally drained.

“But under the 1997 Act, employees have up to six years to bring a claim, and so employers may find that an incident they thought had been forgotten rears its ugly head in the future.”

John said employers should take steps within the workplace to try to avoid such incidents occurring in the first place.

“Try to create a working environment where it’s clear to everyone that bullying is not tolerated, and train your management staff to make sure they realise such behaviour is just unacceptable.

“If your workforce are constantly at odds with each other, and working in a difficult environment where they don’t feel comfortable, your business will soon start to suffer.
“Tackle bullying before it starts, and you should be able to protect your staff and your company, and ensure your business remains competitive and successful at the same time.”