Around 18% of New Zealand employees claim they have been victims of bullying in the workplace. Compared to the rest of the world this figure is high.
Dealing with bullies in the workplace is a complex problem, but one employer must deal with. Failure to address the problem creates problems for employers if the employee raises a personal grievance and the matter proceeds to the Employment Relations Authority (“ERA”).
If complaints of bullying are ignored by the employer it may be alleged the employer has failed to provide a safe workplace for the employee, with the resulting consequences.
There is no legal definition of what constitutes bullying however the relevant ERA cases indicate that the conduct complained of needs to be repeated and includes any action intended to cause fear and distress such as threats or action designed to gain power and or dominance over another.
An effective way to deal with such a problem involves investigating the allegations in a procedurally fair manner and informing the complainant of the outcome of any action that will be taken.
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This article is intended as a point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this article