Q: What is the classification of workplace bullying?

A: For behaviour to be considered as workplace bullying, three of the following elements must be present: Persistent action or omission, unreasonable conduct, the action or omission causes you harm. If one element is missing, the behaviour could still be unfair.

Q: What is the definition of unfairness at work?

A: Any action or omission that is unjust, or there is deception and/or the employer displays partiality. It could also be a breach of conduct as mentioned in relevant Legislation and Regulations.

Q: What is good faith?

A: According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment: “Good faith is about treating others in the way you would like to be treated”. This does not mean that an employer should not act firmly where appropriate, but before making a decision employees should always have a fair opportunity to have a say. Neither party should treat the other in a degrading or humiliating manner. It also means that employers and employees need to raise concerns when they arise. Otherwise solving the problem becomes more difficult. Both employee and employer have a duty of good faith.

Q: What is workplace fairness?

A: It is the same in the workplace as it is in everyday life. The definition of fairness in the Cambridge Dictionary is “The quality of treating people equally or in a way that is right or reasonable. In (all) fairness; considering everything that has an effect on a situation, so that a fair judgement can be made”

Q: Can I prevent workplace bullying or unfair behaviour?

A: No, you cannot prevent the actions or omissions of another person, as it is not something you have control over. You only have control over your own behaviour.

Q: Is workplace bullying the same as school bullying?

A: There are similarities in behaviour but one difference is that someone in authority does a high percentage of workplace bullying. Children are not in breach of legislation as they are not accountable, whereas adults are.

Q: What does bullying look like?

A: Bullying can happen overtly or covertly. Overtly is in the open. It is usually ranting and raving behaviour. Covertly is insidious often behind closed doors. An example of covertly bullying is when there is no acknowledgement for the things you do right. The moment the behaviour has a physical component, it could be violence and then it is a criminal case. The ugliest form of bullying is mobbing. That is backstabbing from co-workers.

Q: What is psychological and/or emotional bullying at work?

A: Isolation, intimidation, spreading false rumours, being pressured to lie and other unwanted actions.

Q: Why is bullying a health and safety issue?

A: Bullying is a health and safety issue because the Health and Safety Employment Act 1992, requires your employer to protect you from certain hazards and that includes both physical and psychological harm. If your employer is not doing this, then they are in breach of legislation and that is a very serious matter. Bullying is your employer’s problem. Only they can really put a stop to it.

Q: How do I check the boundaries of my employer?

A: Both your own and the boundaries of your employer are usually laid down in documents as well as The Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA), The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE), The Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA) and the guidelines of Worksafe NZ.

Q: If the bullying behaviour is not from management what steps do I take?

A: Record every incident of unfair behaviour. If the unfairness or bullying is from a colleague or customer, speak to your manager and make sure you keep notes.

Q: What is a form of bullying or unfairness at work?

A: The two categories are personal or task-related attacks according to Worksafe NZ. An example of a personal attack is belittling remarks. Setting you up to fail is an example of a task-related attack.

Q: How to know if someone is bullying me at work or how do I recognise it?

A: Know your boundaries and those of your employer. Know the definition of what is and what isn’t bullying.

Q: How much compensation can one expect for bullying at work?

A: At our workshops, we give general information in this regard to enable you to know what to expect. Don’t have unrealistic payouts in mind.

Q: What to do when wrongly accused of bullying at work?

A: Keep your cool, wait for your emotions to calm. Say, “Thank you, I will get back to you when I have given it some thought”. Once you are over the shock, probe by asking, “Why are you saying that?” Vague allegations are not acceptable. You must write down specifics of time, place, who was involved, what was said, etc. and then you can explain yourself. The principles of Natural Justice require your employer to consider your explanations in good faith.

Q: Why does bullying and unfairness happen at work?

A: Because of a lack of training and having procedures in place. In a workplace where there are no standards, owners and/or managers could overlook bullying and unfairness. In some cases, there may be Policy and Procedure Manuals, but there simply is no training and no consequence for unfair behaviour.

Q: How to get rid of bullying at work?

A: The only way to get rid of unfair treatment or bullying is to expose it. Your employer should have strict rules and procedures in this regard. Excuses from an employer as to why anti-bullying procedures are not in place will not hold up in court. Regular training is a defence in court.

Q: How do I not become a victim?

A: Stop waiting for things to improve. Know what your end goal is. Work out a plan of action. If you need help, ask. Achieve here to help.

Q: How do I get over, overcome, move on or recover from bullying at work?

A: Tackle your health issues like insomnia and depression first. Speak to your GP. Analyse your goals, do you need to take steps to achieve justice or would you be able to walk away? Before you lodge a complaint, speak to a “person of confidence” like Achieve. Your decision could be a simple or complex issue. You need to be aware of the pluses and minuses of your decisions.

Q: How do I sue for bullying at work?

A: Remember it is not so much about suing as actually winning your case. Achieve could be your first step to help you get ready should you choose to consult a solicitor. Achieve won’t give you legal advice, but we can help you to get your documents in order to assist your solicitor. That could save you a lot of time with the solicitor and in the end, money. Allow Achieve to help you help yourself. Whether you mediate, sue or arrange an exit agreement, knowledge could result in money in your bank account.

Q: What do I say about bullying at work?

A: Be very careful when you talk to colleagues and/or your manager. Don’t make judgement calls. Don’t accuse someone of being a bully. Describe the behaviour and let the person who is reading your complaint decide what tag to put on it. Never psycho-analyse anyone at work! You simply don’t have the qualifications to do it. Only a psychologist can do that.

Q: What to do about bullying?

A: Use Achieve’s Four-stage approach: Collect information. Present information. Consider the feedback. Find a solution. For more information book an Achieve workshop or make an appointment through this website.

Q: How do I deal with covert or subtle bullying at work?

A: You should deal with it the very same way as overt bullying. You should collect all the information, present it, assess the outcome and then decide how to proceed. Attending one of our workshops will prepare you for the outcome you want.

Q: Who can help, who deals with bullying at work or whom can I contact?

A: Before you contact anyone, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Take care of any depression and anxiety you may experience because of the bullying. If you don’t have these problems, then contact your Human Resources department to find out how to proceed. If the business is too small and you don’t have a Human Resources department, contact Achieve. There is immense value in having a person of confidence to support you and that is what Achieve does. Achieve guides you through your choices so that you could make the best possible decisions.

Q: What is harassment at work?

A: Usually sexual, racial or discriminatory of nature and causes the target harm. The intention of the person doing the harassment is not important. What is important is the fact that the action(s) are causing harm.

Q: Where do Harassment, Discrimination and Violence fit in?

A: This class of conduct is unlawful. The best way to protect employees and employers is ongoing training.

Q: How do I sue someone bullying me at work?

A: To sue your employer you need the help of an experienced employment law solicitor. To sue is not the main issue. It is more important for yourself and the person assisting you to win the case and get costs paid by the other party. Your solicitor can only do this if you have kept full notes as discussed and you have proof of all your allegations.

Read the articles on this website, this step could bring you peace of mind and save you a lot of money. Contact Achieve to help you prepare for whatever outcome you want.

Phone Achieve Workplace Harmony today +64 9 2745228

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