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A new code of practice setting out how employers, employees and their representatives should address and resolve bullying in the workplace has come into force in Ireland. Canavan Byrne are currently running webinars on this important topic.

The new 'Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work' (2020 Code) (54-page / 924KB PDF) came into force on 23 December 2020. It was developed by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), and replaces and updates the separate codes of practice previously published by each organisation.

All employers should understand their duties to employees under health and safety legislation. They must act reasonably to prevent workplace bullying patterns developing and, where there are complaints, must act reasonably, assess the complaint, record their actions in line with data protection laws and put in place a suitable response based on each case arising.

Employers should review their current policies in light of this new code of practice and ensure they are compliant and well positioned to deal with a situation should it arise. Having the proper policy is place is a great starting point when any issue arises in the workplace and it is where many are left wanting. Email policies@canavanbyrne for more details.

The 2020 Code is designed to provide guidance for employers, and for employees and their representatives, on good practice and procedures for addressing and resolving issues around workplace bullying.

The new code also provides practical guidance to employers on identifying, managing and preventing bullying at work arising from their duties under the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005 Act).

Under the Code, employers must clearly state that bullying in the workplace is not acceptable, and that complaints of bullying will be dealt with sensitively. The Code highlights the procedures that must be put in place with employers; and reinforces obligations for employers to progress complaints informally where possible and, otherwise, formally as appropriate.

The Code also recognises that bullying can be conducted by non-employees such as visitors, parents, clients and business contacts. The Code recommends that a summary of the employer's anti-bullying policy be displayed at a place where such persons might attend, such as the parent noticeboard.

The code recognises that workplace conflict can be caused by different personalities and human behaviour. and the fact that a person’s perception is heavily influenced by their attitude and pre-existing suspicion.An interesting change in the code is that It has a new second ‘filter’ stage, when employers can bring a problem-solving approach to issues where bullying is a feature or an alleged feature of a troubled relationship at work.

We are running webinars on the new Code. Information is available here https://www.canavanbyrne.ie/all-training/management-hr-training/new-code-of-practice-prevention-resolution-of-bullying-at-work