12 July 2023

The Bullying and Respect at Work Bill has been presented in parliament, which seeks to break the cycle of bullying at work. It will call to account those who abuse their power, while protecting others and for the first time, providing a legal definition of bullying at work.

Rachael Maskell, Labour (Co-op) MP for York Central presented the Bill and stressed that it will not just help people at work but also help employers. It was further expressed that bullying costs UK businesses £18 billion a year and according to the Health and Safety Executive, over 17 million working days are lost each year due to work-related negative behaviours such as bullying.

The Bill aims to:

  • provide for a statutory definition of bullying at work
  • make provision relating to bullying at work
  • enable claims relating to workplace bullying to be considered by an employment tribunal
  • provide for a Respect at Work Code to set minimum standards for positive and respectful work environments
  • give powers to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate workplaces and organisations where there is evidence of a culture of, or multiple incidents of, bullying and to take enforcement action; and for connected purposes.

Rachael Maskell, said:

‘‘The TUC reports that bullying is the second biggest workplace issue. Some 29% of workers will experience workplace bullying at some point, and one in 10 has experienced it in the past six months. Academia backs those figures up. That lack of access to redress and justice explains why 53% of those who are bullied never report it. What is the point, if it exposes you further and there is no legal protection?

Like most MPs, I have had a constant stream of constituents seeking help, but there is no legal definition, no legal protection and no legal route to justice. Without protection, many workers will leave their employment.

ACAS has, within its code of practice, set out a definition.

The UK is behind the curve. Jurisdictions from Canada to Australia, Scandinavia to many across Europe have well established law in this field.

In bringing forward this legislation, I hope that we can change the culture of work—for workers to no longer fear a day in the office, on a ward or even in this Parliament, but instead for them to know that the law is on their side, justice is protecting them and they can receive the very help they need. We have an obligation to protect people at work, and my Bill passing its First Reading today is the first step.’’

The bill is due to receive its second reading on 24 November 2023.

Information provided in this news article may be subject to change. Please make note of the date of publication to ensure that you are viewing up to date information.