Preventing Psychological Abuse in the Workplace - Ireland

Updated: Oct 19

Ireland joins Workplace Bullying Awareness Week and is having the Conversation Psychological Abuse in the Workplace - Ireland.

The Health & Safety Authority and the Workplace Relations Commission jointly prepared the Code of Practice (23rd December 2020). The Purpose of this Code is to provide guidance for employers, employees and their representatives on good practice and procedures for identifying, preventing, addressing, and resolving issues around workplace bullying.

What is Bullying?

Bullying in the workplace has been described in various ways. The Health and Safety Authority’s definition is that it is:

"repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual‘s right to dignity at work."

An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying.

Detailed information is given in the Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work 2021

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Bullying - a Health and Safety Issue

Bullying is a workplace issue and a human relations issue. Therefore it comes under the authority of various agencies and is on the agenda of many interested parties. It is a health and safety issue in so far as bullying has been identified as hazardous or dangerous as it can lead to both safety problems and health problems. It is also an IR issue, a HR issue, often a legal issue and a personal and public health issue. So many agencies and interested parties are stakeholders in this difficult area.

Employers have a Duty of Care to all employees, to ensure they are both mentally and physically safe at work and that their health is not adversely affected by work. This Duty of Care means employers must behave and react reasonably in relation to such matters.

Examples of Behaviour that may Constitute Bullying

Examples of behaviour that may constitute bullying are as follows:

  • Purposely undermining someone;

  • Targeting someone for special negative treatment;

  • Manipulation of an individual‘s reputation;

  • Social exclusion or isolation;

  • Intimidation;

  • Aggressive or obscene language;

  • Jokes that are obviously offensive to one individual by spoken word or email;

  • Intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking;

  • Unreasonable assignments to duties which are obviously unfavourable to one individual;

  • Repeated requests with impossible deadline or impossible tasks








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