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Workplace Bullying

Viimati uuendatud: 11.10.2019

How to Handle Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is when an employee is repeatedly treated in an unpleasant or humiliating way, so that it is hard for them to protect themselves against it.

For example, bullying could be making the other party feel inferior or scared by using occupational relations or situations for it. Bullying often involves power misuse or abuse, slandering, public humiliation, and hindering the victim’s work processes by not communicating important work-related information. Bullying could mean the social isolation or ignoring of the employee – the employee is not given works, or the given tasks are contradictory, purposeless or unsuitable for the employee’s position. The final phase of workplace bullying could be when the employee is asked to “voluntarily” sign their letter of resignation.

What should an employee do, if they experience workplace bullying?

  • Turn to the company’s management and/or other responsible persons (e.g. working environment representative, trustee). It is important to notify the employer of occurring bullying, so that the employee would be able to react and investigate the issue. It is recommended to formulate the notification in writing so that it could be proved later on.
  • If possible and necessary, ask to be transferred to another department (or another room). If bullying occurs inside one department, the situation could be solved by changing the department or the working room.
  • Collect evidence about workplace bullying. Collecting evidence means documenting the events, whereas the most important are the facts (who said and did what and when), not the emotions. Collecting evidence is necessary to investigate the workplace bullying and verifying its’ occurrence.
  • Talk to other colleagues, representative or trustee, psychologist. Exchange experience with people who have gone through similar situations. Workplace bullying could cause a situation where a person sees the world a little distortedly. Therefore, it is good to talk about the worries and ask for advice and help from people that you trust. If necessary, also the psychologist. You may also turn to the Labour Inspectorate for advice.

If continuing work seems impossible, you could consider finding a new job and quit the existing one, for the benefit of your health. If the employer ignores the bullying problem and the employee’s repeated addresses on the subject and enables the workplace harassment to continue, the employee is entitled to quit the contract of employment prematurely, according to § 91 section 2 of the Employment Contracts Act.

When you see a colleague being bullied, then you should intervene. The incident must be reported to the employer. Offer your help to the victim. It is important to not tolerate bullying and not to go along with bullying.

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