Officially, the employer can ask you to make a flexible working request for this change. I know it is not what others have been asked to do but the employer does not necessarily have to adopt the same approach with everyone.
What you can consider arguing this under is potential bullying, if you believe you are being deliberately targeted. Although there is no legal definition of bullying, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) defines it as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.” Examples given are: spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour; exclusion or victimisation; unfair treatment; overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position; making threats or comments about job security without foundation; deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism; preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.
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 victim 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 victim should consider raising a formal grievance with the employer by following the company's own grievance policy, or sending a complaint in writing to their line manager. 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 adequately deal with the bullying issues, the victim would need to seriously consider their next steps. Unfortunately, employment law does not allow employees to make a direct claim for bullying. As such, the most common way of claiming is by resigning and making a claim for constructive dismissal in an employment tribunal. 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. There is a requirement for the victim to have at least 2 years’ continuous service with that employer (which does actually mean that those with less than 2 years’ service cannot make a claim and can effectively be bullied out with no recourse).
As a final pointer, the 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.
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