The Health and Safety Authority and the Workplace Relations Commission jointly prepared the Code of Practice. The purpose of the 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.
WRC/HSA Joint Code of Practice on the Prevention and resolution of Bullying at Work 2021 – Main additions: Increased focus on the initial employer classification of a complaint: whether it is a general conflict, as case of alleged bullying, a case of alleged harassment, or some other workplace issue wrongly labelled.
The Code explains what bullying means and deals with the responsibilities of employers and employees to prevent or resolve it. The Code reflects the legal requirement that employers carry out a risk assessment, and where bullying is identified as a hazard, they ensure that it is included in the safety statement. The Code recommends dealing with cases internally through the following processes which are explained in the Code: – informal resolution by a responsible person – a formal complaints procedure. Only if the internal processes fail, should it be necessary to get outside support. Finally, the Code helps those involved to recognise the possible findings which result from the follow up and investigation of a bullying complaint where, – the complaint is upheld as bullying behaviour – the complaint is deemed to be unfounded as a bullying behaviour – the complaint is deemed to be vexatious
On that point, the new COP is an update and upgrade on two previous Codes – both agencies had separate Codes related to their distinct legislation prior to this. As Codes are not of themselves legislation, but a strong standard set in line with legislation, any Code must show a link between its contents and standards set and relevant legislative powers. In this case, both agencies have underpinning legislation in the guise of various Industrial Relations Acts (WRC) and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005) (HSA)
WRC/HSA Joint Code of Practice on the Prevention and resolution of Bullying at Work 2021 – Main additions:
Increased focus on the initial employer classification of a complaint: whether it is a general conflict, as case of alleged bullying, a case of alleged harassment, or some other workplace issue wrongly labelled.
Increased direction and advice on informal resolution of complaints of bullying within the work area.
Reiteration of sanction for maliciously or carelessly making a bullying complaint.
Clarity on the roles of both agencies and where they overlap and diverge.
Clarity on the legal finding of Irish courts to ensure proper assessment of bullying complaints.
Clarity from recent Irish court rulings on bullying investigations and the rights of various parties, including employer role. Clarification on follow-on processes for formal investigation of bullying cases.
Code of Practice detailing Procedures for Addressing Bullying in the Workplace made under the Industrial Relations Act, 1990 This Code is under the remit of the Workplace Relations Commission.