The new ‘Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work’ (2020 Code) came into force on 23 December 2020. It was developed by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), and replaces and updates the separate codes of practice previously published by each organisation.
It’s important for employers to familiarise themselves with the new code of practice as it applies to all employment in Ireland regardless of the location of the work or the type of work the employee carries out.
Employer duties regarding Bullying at work fall under Health and Safety legislation and it’s important for employers to be aware of their duties. All employers have a duty of care to reasonably prevent bullying in the workplace and where a complaint of bullying does arise, to act in accordance with the Code of Practice.
The updated Code of Practice is very clear on its guidance for employers, employees and their representatives on best practice for preventing and dealing with issues regarding allegations of bullying in the workplace. There is practical advice that employers can implement straight away to make sure their preventative measures against bullying are sufficient such as, the employer displaying their Anti -Bullying Policy around the workplace.
It would be prudent for employers to review their current bullying procedure in their handbook against the updated Code of Practice to make sure they have all areas covered such as; being clear that bullying will not be tolerated, what constitutes bullying, how a bullying complaint can be resolved and that all complaints are taken seriously and will be dealt with sensitively. The Code of Practice makes it very clear that, where appropriate, complaints of bullying should be dealt with through informal procedures first.