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Blog  »  March 2021  »  Bullying in the Workplace: What constitutes as bullying? - Blog
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Mar 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Bullying in the Workplace: What constitutes as bullying?

Workplace bullying is 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 reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.

Examples of bullying behaviour includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Exclusion with negative consequences
  • Verbal abuse/insults
  • Being treated less favourably than colleagues in similar roles
  • Belittling a person’s opinion
  • Disseminating malicious rumours, gossip or innuendo
  • Socially excluding or isolating a person within the work sphere
  • Intrusion - pestering, spying or stalking
  • Intimidation/aggressive interactions
  • Excessive monitoring of work
  • Withholding information necessary for proper performance of a person's job
  • Repeatedly manipulating a person's job content and targets
  • Blaming a person for things beyond their control
  • Use of aggressive and obscene language

What is not considered workplace bullying?

An isolated incident of the behaviour described in the above definition may offend dignity at work, but, as a once off incident, is not considered to be bullying. Workplace bullying should meet the criteria of an on-going series of accumulation of seriously, negative, targeted behaviours against a person or persons to damage their esteem and standing in a harmful, continuous way.

Under the Code, the following examples set out behaviours that do not constitute as bullying:

  • Expressing differences of opinion strongly
  • Offering unwelcome constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work-related behaviour
  • Ordinary performance management
  • Acceptable corrective action taken by an employer/ supervisor which relates to the management and direction of an employee (for example, an employer managing a worker’s performance, taking reasonable disciplinary action against the employee, or assigning the employee work)
  • Complaints relating to instructions issued by a manager, assignment of duties, terms and conditions of employment or other matters, which are appropriate for referral under other normal grievance procedures, do not constitute bullying.

How does bullying manifest in the workplace?

Workplace bullying ought to meet the criteria of a reoccurring cycle and accumulation of negative directed behaviours against a person or persons to damage their esteem and standing in a harmful, sustained way. A pattern and trend are involved so that a reasonable person would regard such behaviour as clearly wrong, undermining and humiliating. Bullying activities involve actions and behavioural patterns, directly or indirectly, spoken and/or written and could include the use of cyber or digital means for the goal of bullying.

The Bright Contracts Handbook has now been updated to reflect the bullying code of practice for employers and employees on the prevention and resolution of bullying in the workplace. To access the update, log out of your Bright Contracts company file and log back in, you will then see a yellow bar across the top of the page asking you if you would like to upgrade the content.

 If you are not a Bright Contracts customer but are looking to adopt or change your HR Software please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.


Posted in Bright Contracts News, Bullying and Harassment, Company handbook