Bullying: Workplace Trials and Tribunals

The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Equality Act expects all employers to exercise a duty of care for their employees. This must include preventing and stopping bullying in the workplace which has come more into focus in recent times.

Bullying can take different forms and can be open to interpretation, so an employer must be able to demonstrate empathy, and fairness to all parties. In 2022 18.7% of NHS workers, say they have been bullied or harassed by colleagues in the last year5. Regardless of how it is occurring, it is unacceptable and must be addressed.

ACAS defines bullying as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour [or] an abuse or misuse of power, that undermines, humiliates, or causes physical or emotional harm to someone6.

Examples of bullying include spreading rumours about a co-worker; setting an employee up to fail; creating scapegoats; ignoring, excluding or isolating an individual and blocking career progression. It is often a subtle process.

It is not a defence to relate incidents to a particular management style. This will not avoid a potential tribunal case nor is lacking the confidence and skills to deal with an issue, bullying in the workplace should be a zero tolerance position for all.

If not handled correctly, directors and managers could face either the bullied or the bully at a tribunal. A bullied individual could claim constructive dismissal, believing they had no option but to resign.

Tribunals involve significant costs, making legal expenses insurance cover very valuable. However, a company director or officers could also be accused of being negligent in their duties, by failing to protect staff from bullying, and then find themselves defending a case seeking to make them personally liable.

This is just one reason to purchase management liability (Directors & Officers) insurance. This protects directors’ finances, by providing legal representation, and even crisis PR, if necessary. It offers access to tools that pro-actively assist in reducing the likelihood of claims, but can also offer cover for defence costs, depending on the charges brought against the individual.

Employee disputes are just one area that such insurance can cover. When you think of the plethora of duties company directors must fulfil and the fact there are over 90 UK regulators, not including local authorities, it makes sense for company directors to reflect on the risks they face.

Covering so many potential pitfalls, management liability insurance is something to seriously consider if you run a business. After examining the benefits with your broker, you should clearly appreciate its value.

Call us today on 01274 515 747 or email us at mail@lwood.co.uk to find out how we can help.