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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 73939
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I suffer stress induced injuries caused from work

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Hello, I suffer stress induced injuries caused from work (abuse+bullying) during my course of employment at the company I work for. The employer is aware of the situation but I do not think that they have taken reasonable steps to improve the situation substantially. The investigation of the grievance and appeal process has come to an end but they have ignored evidences. Also, during the meetings with them, they either paraphrased what I said or didn't include important things. I made amendments to the notes that they didn't check with my witness/companion at the meeting and they refused to include them at the report.
Is abuse at the workplace something the employer is liable for? What can I do? Also, they told me that they will consider to dismiss me due to irreparable relationships (after they do an investigation first). as an alternate solution they offered me money to quit the job.
JA: Have you discussed the injury with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I have discussed it with the HR and the manager but not with a lower
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am an emploee and I don't belong to a union.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: not that I can think of right now

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.

How long have you worked there for? Please note this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I have been working there for 2 years and 11 months.
Thank you

Thank you very much for clarifying. 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, once you have gone through the grievance process, you are left with limited options to take it any further and as you cannot claim for bullying alone, you will have to resign and claim constructive dismissal instead.

It is also worth mentioning that there is a possible alternative solution to this, which could avoid the need for legal action. That is where the employer is approached on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record and with protection against these discussions being brought up in future legal proceedings) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. This can be done by asking for a meeting, or it can be done in writing, via letter or email. Under a settlement agreement the employee gets compensated for leaving the company with no fuss and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, where both parties move on without the need for going to the Employment Tribunal. However, it is an entirely voluntary process and the employer does not have to participate in such negotiations or agree to anything. There is nothing to lose by approaching this subject with the employer and testing the waters on this possibility - the worst outcome is they say no, whereas if successful it can mean being allowed to leave in accordance with any pre-agreed terms, such as with compensation and an agreed reference.

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 15 days ago.
We can start here and if needed we can switch to the phone.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I wanted to know if it is better to involve a lawyer in that case
or just accept their offer

I cannot say whether you should accept the offer or not as that is a personal decision for you to make, especially considering whether it is an amount you are happy to walk away with. A solicitor will not be able to do much at this stage, we only really get involved if you are making a formal claim against the employer

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
if I am not happy with their offer? Basically they offered me an amount that only covers the hours(I am hourly paid) I have missed during this period and something extra that doesn't even covers the money I have spend to phycologists etc. I have read online that I could go to a tribunal claim for bullying once the appeal procedure comes to an end if I am not happy with the result. The company claims that no bulling took place although the whole team complains about the behavior of the specific person(who is a manager) but there is just 'low morale'. Does is worth to either consider a tribunal claim or claim for constructive dismissal?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Thank you very much for the reply above.

You are not obliged to accept, or even consider their offer. It is just a simple way out of this if the offer is reasonable and you are willing to accept it. if you are not, then you will have to pursue your rights through the constructive dismissal route instead. You will still be able to discuss a settlement further down as that can be agreed at any time.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Do you mean that I can start the process of the claim for constructive dismissal and that might come to an agreement with the company in a later stage? Did I understand it right?
Also, what is the cost to start a claim for constructive dismissal? And what can I earn from that process? Does it worth it? Is it possible to win this case?

Yes, a settlement can be reached with the employer at any time, all the way up to the final hearing before a decision is made. So the fact that you di not agree a settlement now does not out an end to it and the further down the claims route you get the more likely it is the employer may wish to try and settle.

The claims process is actually free and you do not need a lawyer which means it can all be done at minimal costs to you.

What you can get from it is compensation for loss of earnings for being forced to leave your job, so it all depends on how long it will take you to find a new job.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I just want to be realistic considering that the situation is impacting my health.

yes I understand and you do have rights but it is mainly about how you apply them and do not rush into anything

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
What is the amount of the compensation depend on?

Loss of earnings which would depend on how long you have been out of a job for as a result of this

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
What do you believe would be the best course of action in this case?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Also, is there anything I could do for the personal injury because of the bulling?

I cannot advise on which path to take unfortunately, all I can do is explain your legal rights and options, as above.

In terms of personal injury, these can be rather difficult to pursue in such circumstances, but it is possible. It would be entirely separate to constructive dismissal and even pursued in a different court - the County Court instead of the Tribunal. You are advised to see a personal injury lawyer before you decide on that

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Thank you for that. Is there a case I could make a tribunal claim for the bulling itself after the grievance is concluded?

You cannot claim for bullying by itself. There is no claim available for that. You have to claim under unfair dismissal (if dismissed), or constructive dismissal (if forced to resign)

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I see, thank you.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
what is considered 'forced to resign'?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Is that a one of these cases?

Yes and it is what will allow you to claim constructive dismissal

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
what would be the steps for that? I have never been involved with the law in the past and I really don't know how to proceed. Will this cost money to my employer?

Obviously you have to resign first to bring your employment to a close. Afterwards and before a claim can be made against the employer in the Employment Tribunal, the affected employee would be required to participate in a process known as ‘early conciliation’, which is administered through the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

The purpose of this process is to allow ACAS to mediate between the employee and their employer to agree on an out-of-court settlement in order to avoid the need for legal action in the Employment Tribunal. The employer does not have to engage in these discussions and the process is voluntary for them. If they refuse to participate, or the conciliation is unsuccessful, the employee will be issued with a certificate by ACAS allowing them to make a claim.

However, if a settlement is reached, the employee would officially agree not to proceed with the claim in return for the agreed financial settlement. Other terms can also be included as part of the settlement, such as an agreed reference.

In order to initiate the early conciliation procedure, ACAS must be contacted, either online by filling in the following form (https://tell.acas.org.uk/find-a-solution-to-your-employment-dispute), or by phone on 0300(###) ###-#### They will explain the process and what happens next and get the ball rolling on your behalf.

If the early conciliation process was not successful, ACAS have issued a certificate to confirm that and you still wanted to make a formal claim in the Employment Tribunal, the claim can be initiated via the following link:

https://www.employmenttribunals.service.gov.uk/apply

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Is there a case they will not agree to participate to the Acas mediation process?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Is something like that usual?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Also, will I be able to have a lawyer's representation if I decide to make a formal claim? In that case how much this might cost?

The ACAS process is voluntary, they can easily ignore it. I cannot say if it is usual or not, it depends on the employer

If you do make a claim you have the choice of having a legal representation but it won’t be cheap – lawyers usually charge per hour and that can be between £200-300ph.

Ben Jones and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Thank you for the information. Have a good night.

You are most welcome and all the best