Monday, 13 November 2017


Bullying, harassment, victimisation: What's the difference?

In everyday language, bullying, victimisation and harassment can be used almost interchangeably to mean similar things.
But in the Equality Act 2010, victimisation and harassment have quite specific meanings - while 'bullying' doesn't feature as a legal term at all.

Harassment

Harassment may include bullying behaviour, and it refers to bad treatment that is related to a protected characteristic, such as age, sex, disability, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
More specifically, the law defines it as 'unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.'
It can include behaviour that individuals find offensive even if it's not directed at them, and even if they do not have the relevant protected characteristics themselves.

Victimisation

Victimisation broadly refers to bad treatment directed towards someone who has made or is believed to have made or supported a complaint under the Equality Act.
It includes situations where a complaint hasn't yet been made but someone is victimised because it's suspected they might make one.
If an individual gives false evidence or makes an allegation in bad faith, then they are not protected from victimisation under the Act.

Bullying

Bullying can be defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse of misuse of power that undermines, humiliates, denigrates or injures the recipient (emotionally or physically) - but it doesn't have a legal definition in the Equality Act. In fact bullying behaviour is very similar to harassment, but it is not related to a protected characteristic.
That said, the absence of bullying from the statute books doesn't mean that people who are being bullied - rather than harassed - have no protections. Neither does it mean that bullies can get away with doing whatever they like as long as their behaviour is not concerning a protected characteristic.
Employers have a 'duty of care' for their employees. No good firm would want its people working in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
In any case, organisations that don't act on bullying effectively are likely to see lower levels of performance, productivity and engagement, as well as increased absence and high staff turnover - all of which can damage the bottom line.
People who feel they are being bullied are usually advised to raise a formal grievance if the matter cannot be resolved informally.
Dealing with grievances internally can be costly in time and money, and sap morale among staff. A breakdown in mutual trust and confidence at work because of bullying could leave employers open to claims of constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal.
So it's in every employer's interests to promote a safe, healthy and fair environment in which people can work without fear of being bullied, harassed or victimised.
Equally it's also in an employer's interests to try and nip unwanted behaviour in the bud by dealing with matters quickly and informally, where they can, thereby protecting the working relationship.


What constitutes workplace bullying?

What constitutes workplace bullying? The most likely things that come to mind are threatening, abusive or patronising behaviours at work. Increasingly, these behaviours are reinforced by email or online work forums, and may even continue outside of work on social media sites.

Take a look at https://www.hrzone.com/lead/culture/anti-bullying-week-2017-stopping-the-timer-on-workplace-bullying or talk to your local steward as we are here for you.



Friday, 10 November 2017

Equal pay

Key points

Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the terms and conditions of their employment contract if they are employed to do:
  • 'like work' - work that is the same or broadly similar
  • work rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study (see: Recruitment)
  • work found to be of equal value in terms of effort, skill or decision making.
Employees can compare any terms in the contract of employment with the equivalent terms in a comparators contract.  A comparator is an employee of the opposite sex working for the same employer, doing like work of equal value. However, an employer may defend a claim if they show the reason for the difference is due to a genuine factor and not based on the sex of the employee.
Employees are also entitled to know how their pay is made up. For example, if there is a bonus system, everyone should know how to earn bonuses and how they are calculated.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to prevent employees from having discussions to establish if there are differences in pay. However, an employer can require their employees to keep pay rates confidential from people outside of the workplace.

The gender pay gap

The gender pay gap differs from equal pay as it is concerned with the differences in the average pay between men and women over a period of time no matter what their role is. Equal pay deals with the pay differences between men and women who carry out the same or similar jobs. For information on the gender pay gap and the forthcoming regulations on calculating it, see our Gender pay gap reporting page.
The equal terms can cover all aspects of pay and benefits, including:
  • basic pay
  • overtime rates
  • performance related benefits
  • hours of work
  • access to pension schemes
  • non monetary terms
  • annual leave entitlements.

What to do if you think you are not receiving equal pay

An employee who thinks they are not receiving equal pay can write to their employer asking for information that will help them establish whether there is a pay difference and if so the reasons for the difference.
If an employee cannot resolve the problem informally or through the formal grievance procedure, they may complain to an employment tribunal under the Equality Act 2010 while still working in the job or up to six months after leaving the employment to which your claim relates.
Since 1 October 2014 employers who lose equal pay claims could be forced to conduct an equal pay audit and publish the results.
For more on the Equality Act 2010, see our Equality and discrimination section.