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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 75163
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I’m being bullied by my boss who refuses to speak to me. I

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Hello, I’m being bullied by my boss who refuses to speak to me. I love my job and don’t want to leave but find this situation I am in unbearable. What can I do?
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: It is a small firm of six people and no such department/person exists
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: employee
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: The company is a law firm and does not issue contracts. I have been there for just over a year

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Is there any formal complaints or grievance procedure in place within this place of work? Can I also just check how long you have worked there for?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Hello, I have been working here Since 1 September 2020. This company does not issue contracts and there are no grievance procedures in place.
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
No, I’m happy to text

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, usually the same day. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

Workplace bullying is unfortunately a rather common problem, which occurs more often than it should. What makes it even more difficult is that there is no specific legislation that deals with it, meaning there are limited options for the victims of bullying to take things further legally.

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.

Under law, specifically the Health and Safety at Work 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 victim should try to calmly and professionally resolve the issue informally with the person responsible for the bullying. I do, however, appreciate that this is much easier said than done.

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.

4. There is, however, 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). However, the 2-year limit is not required if the grounds for bulling were discriminatory, such as because of gender, age, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, etc.

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 is often verbal or through actions, 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.

You can also refer to this guide by ACAS which deals with unfair treatment at work – the following is a direct download link:

https://www.acas.org.uk/if-youre-treated-unfairly-at-work

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Thanks for the information but the issue is with the owner/my boss who is refusing to engage with me. I have been here for less than 2 years and therefore a tribunal will not help. I can’t bear the situation any more and so have no option but to resign. Thank you for your input

You are most welcome and I appreciate that you will have limited rights here unfortunately. If you have any further questions about this, please do not hesitate to get back to me and I will be happy to help. All the best

Ben Jones and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 18 days ago.
Many thanks

My pleasure