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Rebecca O’Neill looks at ways for employers to ensure they are equipped to deal with bullying in the workplace.

I recently had a zoom call with Elaine Ryan and Associates HR and Business Consultants about the new code of practice issued by the Workplace Relations Commission and the Health and Safety Authority on the 23rd of December 2020 about anti-bullying in all workplace locations including working from home and mobile locations.

I really wanted to write about this because I think it will be extremely helpful and informative for businesses. This new code of practice provides you with information about what to do and what not to do in terms of managing the workplace. The main purpose of this is to give guidance, encourage people to engage, ensure procedures are correct and to make sure records are correctly maintained. This only refers to bullying and highlights the approach to take when preventing it.

Prevention:
This code of practice states that you manage and conduct work activities which will educate employees. Issue an annual Safety Statement and to create an anti-bullying policy which will inform your employees on the do’s and don’ts in terms of anti-bullying . It is all about a positive approach to prevent bullying. Always have quite a high focus on malicious complaints in the workplace and big emphasis on training.

Employers must always maintain a record of what actions are taken in dealing with complaints of bullying and to always require a consultation including employee and employer in respect of health and safety matters. Inform employees and new employees about all policies when they start. Training should be given to ensure all employees have a full understanding of the policies when starting. Regular reviews should be carried out to ensure compliance with the policies in place. Get legal and specialist advice to ensure you get it right. You have the duty to create a very safe work environment so make sure your employees know about your policy.

Ensure that once the policy is agreed that it is signed by a senior level of management. Once a year make sure your H&S statement is brought to your employees attention if any amendments are made. Risk assessments should be carried out for health and safety purposes during and post Covid 19 for those employees who have a disability, medically susceptible or compromised.

Contact person:
Appoint a suitable and supportive contact person who is a good listener and ensure they are trained and are very educated on the anti-bullying policy. This person would be an approachable person and would act as a first responder for anyone enquiring about bullying and would offer confidential guidance in line with the workplace policies. This person would not have any further role in the investigation of complaints.

The main goal is to promote anti-bullying culture when creating your anti-bullying policy and to ensure your workplace environment is safe and positive for everyone. Employers should review their workplace practices and procedures. This column is only some of the information about this code of practice.

If you would like to know more, contact Elaine Ryan Business Associates HR and Business Consultants on 086 238 1555 or email elaineryanhr@gmail.com

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