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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47903
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hello I am presently off sick from work (5 months) and have

Resolved Question:

Hello

I am presently off sick from work (5 months) and have a long term mental health issue that I informed workplace of at start. I had worked well with positive feedback before a new manager over 1 year ago. I felt unsupported and intimidated by new manager and quickly lost my confidence, self esteem and sense of self leaving me unable to complete my work to the same standard. I have had an Occupational Health report saying that an intimidating relationship with my manager has affected my health and whilst I have an long standing health condition covered by the Equality Act, the report states that the current relapse is due to a change in management.
Whilst off sick I was asked to a meeting to discuss the OH report (told on the phone it would be an Informal Investigation due to allegations of bullying in the OH report). The outcome of the meeting and further investigation is that no evidence of bullying was found. There is a recognition of a breakdown in relationship, that it not wholly due to me and mediation and a return to work with same manager are recommended.
I have spoken to CAB and they supported my thinking that I was in an emotional bullying relationship with my manager or bullying (their term) but now not getting response from emails to CAB asking for further support.
I am not sure what to do next and how to access support. I am not a member of a union but I would appreciate having an idea of where I can access support and action that I would be able to take as I disagree with the outcome. I also received notes of the meeting which I have responded saying that they were confused and inaccurate over a week ago to both HR and investigating manager but have not had a reply.
Thankyou
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

4 years in April

Ben Jones :
OK, thank you, XXXXX XXXXX this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you
Customer:

Sorry, My name is XXXXX XXXXX thanks.

Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience, and just before I finalise my response what would you ideally like to achieve in this situation?

Customer:

At a basic level an acknowledgement of bullying behaviour, I believe it happened and I wasn't protected or provided with a supportive and safe environment. For context I work for an organisation that promotes recovery in relation to mental health problems. Our organisation promotes recovery practice, yet my working environment doesn't practice what it preaches. From the evidence I have experienced from my manager I don't trust that relationship to change and that it will be made harder for me as I have challenged her.

Customer:

My health is more important but I don't think it's right for people to be treated the way I have and it be put down to relationship difficulties.

Customer:

I would want to challenge the outcome but would need support to do. By this I mean someone who will also guide me through any process such as advising/supporting me with layout of info I provide and an honest opinion as to whether the evidence I have is enough.

Ben Jones :

Bullying is unfortunately something that happens all too often in the workplace. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual subjected to it.


 


Under law, specifically the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, an employer has a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees. In addition, they have the implied contractual duty to provide a safe and suitable working environment. That includes preventing, or at least effectively dealing with bullying behaviour occurring in the workplace.


 


In terms of what the victim of bullying can do to try and deal with such problems, the following steps are recommended:


 



  1. First of all, and if appropriate, the employee should try and resolve the issue informally with the person responsible for the bullying.

  2. If the above does not work or is not a viable option, the employee should consider raising a formal grievance with the employer by following the company's grievance policy. This formally brings the bullying issue to the attention of the employer and they will have a duty to investigate and deal with it.

  3. If, following a grievance, the employer fails to take any action or the action they take is inappropriate, the employee would need to seriously consider their next steps. Unfortunately, employment law does not allow employees to make a direct claim about bullying. As such, the most common way of claiming for bullying is by resigning first and then submitting a claim for constructive dismissal in an employment tribunal (subject to having at least 2 years' continuous service with the employer). The reason for resigning would be to claim that by failing to act appropriately, the employer has breached the implied terms of mutual trust and confidence and failed to provide a safe working environment and that there was no other option but to resign. However, this step should only be used as a last resort as it can be risky, after all it will result in the employment being terminated.


 


In general, a victim should try and gather as much evidence as possible before considering making a formal complaint and certainly before going down the resignation route. As bullying often takes verbal form, the best way is to keep a detailed diary of all bullying occasions so that there is at least some reference in written form that the employer and/or the tribunal can refer to.


 


In terms of the support you may get to do this, then that would unfortunately be somewhat limited. A union is usually the best bet, but apart from that you are only really looking at the CAB for some support on the side or you would have to employ an employment consultant or solicitor, but the fees would not be cheap. If you were to do the work internally yourself and then go to tribunal, the FRU could be an option for free representation (www.thefru.org.uk).

Customer:

Thanks. This confirms what I already was aware of.

Customer:

I do need though to challenge the notes of the meeting we had and a couple of other points that will now be on my personal file-my manager had described me as '..leading me at times to be bullying and harassing' in my occupational health referral. No -one who knows me, apart from herself, would describe me in this way.

Ben Jones :

I, of course, cannot comment on that and whether it is reasonably or true but of course if you do not agree with it you have the right to challenge it, and perhaps ask for proof that supports that statement, which if it cannot be produce should call for the removal of the comments from your file

Customer:

Ok, thanks. How do I rectify the notes of the meeting we had? I have already contacted them over a week ago and no response. I did receive the managers report two days later with her outcome but no reference to the email I had sent.

Ben Jones :

you may only do so by continuing to deal directly with the people responsible or higher management, and as mentioned the grievance procedure is open to you too

Customer:

Thankyou

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome

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