Workplace Bullying

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2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
1 August 2003
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with concern the 2002 Industrial Relations Society report, which reveals that workplace bullying has replaced pay as the main complaint by workers. Conference also recognises that homophobic bullying and harassment at work is a major detriment to many lesbians and gay men and this is furthr exacerbated for black and disabled lesbians and gay men.

Conference therefore calls on the National Lesbian and Gay Committee to;

1.liase with the National Executive Council (NEC) to urge them to issue guidance to Branches on negotiating Bullying and Harassment Policies which specifically include measures to deal with homophobic bullying and which follows ACAS’s approach not to rely upon standard definitions and objective tests;

2.urge the NEC to take the necessary measures to ensure that training is available to Stewards and Branch Officers to enable them to deal competently with issues of homophobic bullying at work.

Conference further notes that the government is in the course of introducing a specific and freestanding right to be protected from harassment in all six equality areas – race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age and it will introduce a standard definition of harassment with a modified definition for sexual harassment.

However, United Kingdom regulations, unlike the European Union directives upon which they are based, include a test for deciding whether conduct falls within the definition. The test is not that of the individual experiencing the conduct but rather of how a reasonable person would view it and the Commission for Racial Equality is concerned that this may have weakened protection from racial harassment even though the directive specifically forbids this.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service’s Guide for Managers and Employers continues to urge a subjective test. It says:

“For practical purposes those making a complaint usually define what they mean by bullying or harassment – something has happened to them which is unwelcome, unwarranted and causes a detrimental effect. If employees complain they are being bullied or harassed, then they have a grievance which must be dealt with regardless of whether or not their complaint accords with a standard definition.”