Stallard Kane supports the HSE’s new Metalwork Inspections
With 2023 studies showing almost a third of employees have experienced workplace bullying and harassment we wanted to check in with our clients to provide a refresher in handling these types of situations in the workplace.
Employers have a duty of care to their employees to provide a working environment free from harassment and bullying, ensuring all staff are treated with dignity.
It is important to recognise that harassment or bullying can occur both in and outside the workplace, such as on business trips or at work-related events or social functions. More surprisingly perhaps, employers must also consider potential inappropriate conduct by some third parties such as customers or suppliers.
Whilst bullying and harassment are often discussed hand in hand, it is important to recognise the difference between the two.
What is harassment?
Harassment is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. A single incident can sometimes amount to harassment.
It can involve conduct of a sexual nature or be related to a protected characteristic such as age, disability, gender (or gender reassignment), marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.
A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended target, for example of they are a bystander of another being harassed.
What is bullying?
Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened.
It can also include overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision or inappropriate derogatory remarks about someone's performance.
How to manage bullying in the workplace.
If an employee feels they are being bullied in the workplace, it may be possible to raise the issue informally by speaking with the “perpetrator” directly or to their line manager.
If an informal resolution is unsuccessful or inappropriate for the particular employee, they may raise a formal complaint in writing as a formal grievance. The grievance should detail the conduct in question, the dates when this occurred (remember this might not always be available) and identify any witnesses that may have been present.
An employer must always investigate complaints in a timely and confidential manner. A meeting should then be scheduled as soon as possible with the employee raising the complaint, ensuring the employee is notified of their right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or a colleague.
Depending on the severity of the allegation the company may consider suspending the alleged harasser/bully on full pay; however, there are certain issues to consider and we would refer to our earlier broadcast concerning suspending an employee (Suspending an Employee | Stallard Kane).
The company will also need to meet with the alleged perpetrator, and it is important to note they will also have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative, in line with your company’s standard grievance policy.
You will then need to interview any witnesses, before an outcome is reached and reported in the appropriate manner.
We mentioned at the outset of this article that employers have a duty of care to their employees; if you have knowledge of harassment or bullying in the workplace, what you decide to do next could be crucial.
The company will need to consider how best to manage the ongoing relationship between the employees involved, whether mediation or counselling may be appropriate to seek to repair that working relationships and whether more practical working arrangements are appropriate to protect all parties.
Employees raising grievances surrounding bullying and harassment (or indeed on any basis) must not suffer any retaliation as a result, as this could result in subsequent complaints of victimisation. It is therefore important that all allegations are taken seriously and handled appropriately in line with the correct processes.
Managing employee relationships and grievances can be difficult, particularly when associated with sensitive matters like bullying and harassment. It is, therefore, essential you consult with your dedicated HR Advisor to ensure the process and decisions you make are fitting to your specific case.
Article by Katie Rees, HR Advisor
At Stallard Kane, we offer expert advice and guidance to ensure your business remains compliant.
Talk to us today to discuss your requirements – call 01427 420 203 or email email@example.com and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced their latest initiative to tackle occupational lung disease within the woodworking industry, supported by their latest Dust Kills campaign.
HSE's recent inspections have revealed that many woodworking businesses fail to implement necessary measures to prevent or control exposure to wood dust, thereby endangering the lives of their workers. To address this alarming issue, HSE inspectors across the UK will visit woodworking businesses, particularly those involved in sawmilling, composite boards, and carpentry, specifically focusing on respiratory risks associated with wood dust.
Throughout 2023 and 2024, HSE inspectors will assess whether employers have considered the appropriate control measures to reduce workers' exposure to wood dust. They will also evaluate workers' understanding of the risks and check for effective control measures to safeguard their health. In cases where necessary, enforcement action will be taken to ensure workers' protection.
Full statement from HSE
How we can help: Ensuring Effective Knowledge
Workplace Exposure Monitoring
Compliance with regulations and protecting employees from hazardous substances, such as chemicals, fumes, dust, and vapours, is essential. Our workplace exposure monitoring services assist you in mitigating risks and providing regulatory compliance. We also provide guidance on noise and vibration hazards, helping you prevent long-term health issues like noise-induced hearing loss and hand-arm vibration syndrome.
Find out more by visiting our Workplace Exposure Monitoring page.
Training and Education
Equipping employers and workers with the necessary knowledge and skills is paramount to controlling dust effectively. We offer various training courses designed to raise awareness and promote best practices. We offer UK-wide training options that can be created bespoke for your business and delivered virtually, on site, or at one of our accredited course centres. Our expert trainers cater to the specific needs of different industries and roles.
Find out more by visiting our Training page.
How we can help: Ensuring Effective Control Measures
Face Fit Testing
To optimise protection against hazardous materials, conducting face fit testing on Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is crucial. Our experienced trainers are competent in performing accurate and reliable RPE fit tests. By ensuring a tight fit of the facepiece, we help prevent leaks and guarantee the utmost safety for workers in diverse roles and physical characteristics.
Find out more by visiting our Face Fit Testing page.
When working correctly, LEV systems should carry away any harmful dust, mist, fumes or gas in the air. This is to prevent individuals from breathing in dangerous impurities. Correctly fitted and maintained, LEV will collect the air that contains the contaminants and make sure they are contained and removed. Our team can provide regular testing and inspections to ensure the safety of your employees and customers.
Occupational Health Assessments
Early identification of ill-health effects is vital for implementing better control measures. Our comprehensive occupational health assessments help identify potential health risks in the workplace, provide a robust way of measuring the effectiveness of existing control measures, and offer tailored strategies for improvement. Spirometry, otherwise known as Lung Function Testing, carried out on a regular basis will give you the information you require about your employees lung capacity.
Used on an ongoing basis, it will help diagnose and monitor lung conditions and the impact certain exposures may have on your employees.
Find out more by visiting our Occupational Health Assessments page.
Last month ACAS published updated guidance around support for mental health in the workplace.
Under the Equality Act (2010), employers have a legal obligation to offer support to any employee who has a disability, defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
The new guidance summarises that reasonable adjustments must be made:
- when an employer knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, someone is disabled;
- when a disabled staff member or job applicant asks for adjustments;
- when someone who’s disabled is having difficulty with any part of their job; and/or
- when someone’s absence record, sickness record or delay in returning to work is because of, or linked to, their disability.
ACAS states when a company is looking to put in place reasonable adjustments that they should consider that:
- Every job position is different, one way to support an employee may not be appropriate in a different job position.
- Every employee is different, as people manage their own conditions differently.
- Mental health can develop and reoccur frequently, meaning a support measure you put in place in the present may not be appropriate in the future.
Examples of reasonable adjustments in relation to mental health:
- A change in the employees role or responsibilities, which could include a reduction in tasks,
- Reviewing how the employee is communicating.
- A change in a physical environment, which could be a change in workplace
- Providing additional support in the form of training or coaching.
ACAS highlights the importance of the employer and employee working together when discussing reasonable adjustments and being clear on what support the company can provide vs what the employee is requesting. Should an employee request reasonable adjustments, the company should be understanding and listening to the reasons why the employee has requested these adjustments.
Organisations should document any reasonable adjustments agreed and make a plan of when these actions will be implemented or later reviewed.
Employers are also advised to complete future checks with the employee to understand if the reasonable adjustments are providing the support required or if any further changes need to be actioned.
By conducting reviews and checking in on the employee, the employer can be seen as providing the extra support the employee may need. Ignoring a request for reasonable adjustments may be considered an act of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act. The full ACAS guide can be accessed here: https://www.acas.org.uk/reasonable-adjustments-for-mental-health
Your designated HR advisor is also available to discuss the requirement for reasonable adjustments on a case by case basis. Talk to us today to discuss your requirements – call 01427 678 660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.