Bullying At Work: How To Spot It & What To Do Next

How do I write a grievance letter? 

“A good grievance letter sets out the factual background clearly and chronologically and identifies any discrimination or other unlawful reason for the treatment.  Writing a grievance can take a lot of effort and you should make sure that your facts are correct by checking any contemporaneous documents such as meeting minutes and e-mails. 

“I have to come to understand over the years that the process of writing a grievance letter can be both upsetting and cathartic in equal measure.”

Step 3: ACAS Early Conciliation

“If the grievance process is not fruitful, then you may want to contact ACAS to see whether it would be appropriate for you to initiate the formal process of ACAS Early Conciliation by submitting an online form.  This allows a period of time, usually a month, when ACAS will seek to mediate between you and your employer to resolve a legal dispute with your employer and/or (if appropriate) any individual concerned.”

Step 4: Seek Legal Advice About Your Options

“It is often beneficial to know your options from the outset, to understand your Employer’s obligations and to identify any potential claims which you may already have, such as relating to discrimination or protected disclosures.  It would also be helpful to have advice in respect of the grievance process.  

“Legal advice will also allow you to ensure that you comply with any time limits on bringing a claim.  Some time limits in the Employment tribunal can be as short as three months from the act complained about but navigating the issue of time limits can be tricky and is best done with the benefit of advice from a lawyer.

“It is also possible that if the situation is a serious one and your employer fails to rectify/address it so seriously that this could at some point amount to a “fundamental” breach of the contract of employment in law which is so serious that it undermines your trust and confidence in your employer.  If so, the situation may give rise to a potential claim of constructive dismissal.  

“However, you should not threaten resignation or a claim of constructive dismissal or indeed, to actually resign without taking careful legal advice beforehand because constructive dismissal claims can be risky and difficult to win and you so, you should be sure that you have a good case before resigning.  My preference is to seek to resolve things by negotiation, rather than advising clients to resign which can be a bit of a leap into the unknown in many situations.”

Step 5: Employment Tribunal

“If you have a good employment case, then if it is not possible to settle this out of court, any claim will eventually be heard at an Employment Tribunal.  The Employment Tribunal system was designed so that parties did not require legal representatives but these days as employment law has become more complex it is often the case that the parties have representatives.  

“Employment Tribunal Hearings tend to be similar to other civil court hearings but are perhaps, a little less formal.  You would usually have to exchange documents, prepare witness statements and a bundle ahead of a hearing.  Sometimes some matters are addressed at preliminary hearings.  Ultimately, witnesses are usually expected to attend the hearing to give evidence.  You will be questioned on your own evidence by the other side’s representative and your claim will be heard by a Tribunal panel or Judge sitting alone.

“Even if you win at tribunal you do not routinely have your costs paid by the losing party and so, your adviser will need to take this into account when advising about the value of your claim and any strategy for settlement.”

How should you report it if you know a colleague is being bullied?

“Speaking up on behalf of someone else at work is a brave thing to do. However, you may feel that it is worth it to stand up for a colleague who is being unfairly treated. You may want to do the “right thing” and call out the bad behaviour and seek to resolve the issues for the victim.  It can certainly make a difference to an individual who is perhaps too worried to raise the issue for themselves.  

“Further, your Employer may take a complaint from a third party more seriously.  Depending on the circumstances, you may be legally protected against any detrimental treatment from your Employer or colleagues which results due to your complaint.

“You may make any such complaint via the grievance and/or bullying procedure.   However, you may be able to raise the issue less formally in some circumstances.  You should contact your Employer about the best way to approach this.  You may wish to approach your HR person or a manager who is not involved in the situation to ask how you should raise the issue. Your Employer may in some circumstances be able to keep your identity confidential.”

For more from Glamour UK’s Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.