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Allegations of bullying should be taken seriously by all employers

Kate Palmer - Peninsula UK

Just when it appears things can’t get any worse for Downing St, a senior MP has accused the government of trying to ‘blackmail’ MP’s who are trying to oust the Prime Minister. William Wragg accused government whips (those MPs who oversee discipline) of threatening those suspected of plotting with the removal of government investment in their constituencies.

Wragg also said he had received reports of government ministers, advisers, and staff at No 10 “encouraging the publication of stories in the press seeking to embarrass” those suspected of lacking confidence in the PM, claiming the reports “would seem to constitute blackmail” and encouraging affected MPs to contact the police or the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

While this story, naturally, makes the headlines, allegations of bullying and harassment are issues that employers of all sizes need to take seriously.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says: “Employees are rightfully entitled to their own opinions of individuals and events. As long as these views are not offensive, and derogatory language isn’t used in such discussions, there is nothing wrong with opposing another’s. Equally, employees should not be forced or intimidated to support the views of others.

“Treating employees with hostility or bullying them into compliance can risk successful constructive dismissal claims being raised. In extreme cases, there may also be the risk of whistleblowing and/or discrimination claims, which can be detrimental for organisations.

“This being said, in situations whereby an employee is publicly slandering their employer which is impacting their reputation and customer engagement, employees may face action in line with their organisation’s disciplinary procedure. This is particularly prominent in situations whereby the employee’s allegations are unfounded and malicious in intent.

Should this happen, employers must follow their internal policy and procedures to investigate the issue and reach a conclusion fairly. Acting without following due process may lead to unfair dismissal claims being successful, even if the overarching reason for dismissal is fair.”

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