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Half the population are bullied ... most only recognize it when they read this

Bullying news 1998

See also
Current news
News of workplace bullying in the USA
News of child bullying and school bullying
2002 news | 2001 news | 2000 news | 1999 news | 1998 news | 1996-1997 news
See BBC News Online and use the search facility for "bullying"

Changes to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line
The UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line has been running since January 1996 during which time it has logged nearly 3000 cases of bullying (click here for statistics). It has been a rewarding (albeit exhausting!) experience and a privilege to have helped so many people. After three years of providing telephone advice, I've decided to scale down the telephone counselling and focus my efforts into developing Bully OnLine and updating my book Bully in sight. Those without Internet access (or even those with) can still obtain my information sheet and newsletter Bullying Times by sending an A4 or A5 stamped addressed envelope with two loose second class stamps to: Workplace Bullying, PO Box 67, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 9YS, UK. If you are tackling bullying and have specific questions which are not covered by Bully OnLine or my information sheet, you can contact me here. Other bullying helplines are listed on the Links page under Helplines.

Peter Mandelson dilutes Fairness at Work proposals
In what is seen as a sop to employers, Peter Mandelson has altered the White Paper's original proposal to remove the 12,000 cap on compensation for unfair/constructive dismissal (to bring it into line with sex, race and disability discrimination law) and instead imposed an arbitrary limit of 50,000. This action suggests that Mr Mandelson is out of touch with what is happening in the workplace. For the reality the government would prefer you didn't see, click here. The proposed limit still makes it cost-effective for employers to dismiss anyone heading for a stress breakdown in order to avoid a personal injury claim. This is not morally or ethically acceptable. For the text of Mr Mandelson's written Commons statement on 17 December 1998 click here.

New name for this web site
You've heard of AOL (America OnLine), now here's BOL (Bully OnLine). With what's going on in the White House, some might say they're synonymous. But seriously, demand for my UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line is now so high that I'm devoting most of my energy to developing the world's largest Internet information resource on bullying. The site is a gold mine of information where everyone can help themselves. If you have further questions or comments or suggestions, please contact me.

Accidents caused by overwork
The UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the CBI, and the TUC have joined forces to demand that the Health & Safety at Work Act be extended to apply to employers whose overworked, stressed and fatigued employees are involved in road traffic accidents. Such accidents, it is estimated, account for around 1000 road deaths each year. The health effects of excessive stress are covered in detail on the health page.

DDA applies to mental illness
In a landmark case, Matthew Goodwin, formerly an employee at the Patents Office, has successfully claimed at an Employment Appeals Tribunal that mental health problems count as a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The ruling means that all employees with mental health problems, including depression, are now protected under the DDA provided they are physically able to carry out their work.

Employment Rights (Disputes Resolution) Act 1998
The Employment Rights (Disputes Resolution) Act 1998 is an attempt to resolve unfair dismissal cases without the need for an employment tribunal; such cases form the bulk of tribunal cases. The arbitrator will rely on the ACAS code on disciplinary procedures and its more detailed guidance book Discipline at work to determine whether a dismissal was fair or unfair. As the arbitrator is unlikely to be legally qualified or experienced or versed in case law, it remains to be seen whether the system will work.

BBC News Online
The BBC have an online news web site updated daily at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news . Each page has a search facility enabling you to find and display news coverage from days and weeks past. This make an excellent clippings service. To see the BBC's coverage of the TUC conference on bullying on 5 October 1998 click here.

TUC Conference "No excuse: beat bullying at work"
Over 430 people registered for the TUC's conference No excuse: beat bullying at work held on Monday 5 October 1998 at Congress House in London. This is the largest attendance at a conference on bullying in the UK to date. Delegates heard presentations from a range of speakers including Health Minister Tessa Jowell, John Monks, Chris Ball, Neil Crawford, Charlotte Rayner, and others. Media coverage was good; Tim Field appeared on GMTV with John Stapleton and Penny Smith. See BBC News Online coverage in the previous item.

It's official! Bad management is cause of stress
Head of HSE's health directorate Dr Peter Graham has identified 'bad management' as a major cause of stress, the second most commonly reported work-related illness. The HSE have produced a leaflet Help on work-related stress which identifies the main causes of stress at work, states employers' legal obligations and provides advice on risk assessment. Environment minister Alan Meale recognises the unacceptability of stress and stated that the government "is determined to do something about it". To see facts, figures and costs of bullying click here.

MoD top brass to get anti-sexism training
Senior military officials are to undergo compulsory equal opportunities training, it was announced today (22 September 1998). The objective is to create harassment-free environments and to boost recruitment of women and ethnic minorities. However, former Chief of Defence Staff Lord Carver anachronistically condemned the anti-sexism training as a "ridiculous concession to political correctness" stating that "I think the money would be far better spent on other things".

It was propitious that this commitment appeared on the same day that the Navy's youngest recruit shunned a career in the Navy after repeated verbal and physical abuse including assault. 17-year-old David Allen received special dispensation to embark on a career in the Navy at age 16 (the normal age of entry is 17) having set his heart on a full 21-year naval career. He will now leave the Navy regardless of the outcome of the investigation into his case.

Clearly Lord Carver has not thought this through, which, for the person formerly in charge of our defence, is disturbing. People who commit acts of bullying, harassment and discrimination are weak, inadequate individuals who bully to hide their inadequacy. Each successful case of harassment and discrimination now produces a six-figure settlement which with legal bills etc costs taxpayers over 1 million per case, sometimes twice that. The MoD is bracing itself for for a rash of claims resulting from the type of leadership (sic) apparently championed by Lord Carver. Clearly, money should be far better spent on other things.

European Court rules caning illegal
Bullying is the common denominator of all violent behaviour, including corporal punishment. Now the European Court has ruled (23 September 1998) that corporal punishment is illegal. So, a century after it was made illegal to beat animals, children can now enjoy the same protection. Corporal punishment is a form of sexual assault which is explained on the abuse page.

Record payout
Former London Borough of Hackney chief personnel officer Samuel Yeboah was awarded a record 750,000 compensation this week (6 Sept 98) by a London employment tribunal after a marathon 104-day trial. It found that former Director of Housing Bernard Croftin discriminated against African employees and bullied and harassed Mr Yeboah by making false allegations of fraud against him. This is one of a number of tribunals involving record damages involving North London Boroughs which include Hackney, Lambeth, and Camden. Click here for comment.

Discriminating young bank manager's flying start to career
Former Midland Bank employee Andrew Gilbert has won his case for sex discrimination after his manager Kathryn Dowse, at 21 Britain's youngest female bank manager, dismissed him following a sequence of typical bullying tactics. These included humiliation (making him mop the floor), rudeness, patronising him, making complaints about his performance to superiors but not informing Mr Gilbert, perceiving him as a threat, singling him out and treating him differently from his three female colleagues, etc. "I can say quite emphatically we do not regard the bank's conduct as indicative of taking such steps as were reasonably practical to avoid discrimination", said the tribunal chairman. Having failed to enforce its own strict anti-discriminatory policy, Midland Bank's embarrassment is heightened as it was one of the first organisations to develop and implement an anti-bullying policy, and is often quoted as a pioneer in this area. Damages are under consideration.

Advice Line 3000th enquiry
At the beginning of September 1998, Tim Field's UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line logged its 3000th enquiry and 2500th case. For the latest statistics, click here.

Support groups
More and more Advice Line callers are asking about joining or starting a local bullying survivor support group. Existing groups are listed on the Links page. For ideas and guidance on starting a local bullying support group, click here. Existing support groups for teachers are at the bottom of the Teachers page.

Industrial Tribunals renamed
Now that the main provisions of the Employment Rights (Disputes Resolution) Act 1998 have come into effect, Industrial Tribunals have been renamed Employment Tribunals.

ECJ rules 2-year limit unfair
The European Court of Justice has ruled that the 2-year qualifying period for unfair or constructive dismissal is discriminatory. More information on the legal page.

Suicide linked to stress
Computer systems manager Deborah Ingram, 33, committed suicide after finding the pressures of work intolerable, a Birmingham coroner has concluded (Computer Weekly, 30 July 1998). Information Technology (IT) is usually the poor relation and staff and IT directors often work under intolerable pressure whilst simultaneously being excluded from board and executive-level decision-making. It's likely that stress levels will go through the roof as the year 2000 approaches, and the failures of senior management to plan for the millennium will be paid for by increasing numbers of over-stressed and suicidal IT staff.

Deputy head teacher wins substantial compensation for bullying
Deputy head teacher Anthony Ratcliffe received 100,000 in an out-of-court settlement this week (16 July 1998). Mr Ratcliffe alleges he was denied keys to the school building, prevented from using unpaid assistance of his wife in setting up his classroom, and was humiliated in front of others at a Christmas party. The allegations, say Mr Ratcliffe's union ATL, were conceded and not disputed by the other side. However, Pembrokeshire County Council simultaneously denied Mr Ratcliffe's allegation but had no hesitation in paying him 100,000. Tim Field's Advice Line has logged nearly 500 cases of teachers being bullied out of their jobs; details and further comment are on the teachers' page.

ILO report on workplace violence
On 16 July 1998 the International Labour Organisation (ILO - part of the United Nations) published a report on workplace violence covering both physical violence (eg assault) and psychological violence (eg bullying). Violence at Work, Duncan Chappell and Vittorio Di Martino, 1998, SFr25, ISBN 92-2-110335-8, ILO Publications, International Labour Office, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland, or through your local bookseller.

TUC conference on bullying
Following the success (!) of the TUC Bad Bosses Hotline in December 1997 when 38% of 5000 calls concerned bullying by managers and co-workers, the TUC are planning a conference on Monday 5 October 1998 as part of a week of activities to highlight bullying at work.

Fairness at Work - at last
The UK Labour Government published its long-awaited Fairness at Work White Paper on 21 May 1998. Amongst the proposals are the right to representation by a trade union, and the abolition of the 12000 limit on compensation with a reduction from two years to one year in the qualifying period for unfair and constructive dismissal. People who lose their livelihood through bullying may at last be able to receive compensation commensurate with their injustice. The proposals have been cautiously welcomed by all sides. The paper is on-line - click here to display.

Alleged bullying at Camden
The Mail on Sunday has won a judicial review lifting the gagging order imposed by tribunal chairwoman Tania Jane Mason preventing allegations of bullying, sex discrimination and fraud at the London Borough of Camden from being communicated to voters prior to local elections. See Jason Lewis's and Clare Sambrook's article in the Mail on Sunday, 3 May 1998. Another feature on bullying at Camden is online at http://www.hamhigh.co.uk/

Bullying psychiatric injury case settled
The first case for psychiatric injury caused by bullying (Walford v. Ford Motor Company) was settled out of court at the end of February 1998. The settlement was conditional on a gagging order which prevents details of both the bullying and the settlement from being made public. Abuse thrives on silence and denial - and gagging clauses.

STV - enormous response
Scottish Television's Scottish Women programme on bullying shown in April 1998 has produced a flurry of Advice Line calls and visits to this site.

Be Hyenawise!
Tim Field has copies of Susan Marais' and Magriet Herman's excellent book Corporate Hyenas at Work! How to spot and outwit them by being Hyenawise available to readers in the UK, Europe and USA. The book cleverly uses a hyena metaphor to describe organisational and serial bullying. For a copy send a cheque or postal order for 18 (Europe 19, USA 20 sterling) payable to Success Unlimited to: Success Unlimited, PO Box 67, Didcot, Oxon OX11 9YS, UK. Elsewhere contact one of the authors: Susan Marais, PO Box 92340, Norwood, 2117 Johannesburg, South Africa, Tel/fax: +27-11-786-9877, email suma@global.co.za. **SOLD OUT MAY 2000 - see http://www.worktrauma.org/corporatehyenas.htm **

More people taking legal action
Since the BBC2 series on bullying last August, Tim Field has noticed a change in the pattern of enquiries to his Advice Line. Firstly, more employers and organisations are enquiring, which is welcome progress. Secondly, targets/survivors of bullying are showing less shame, embarrassment and guilt about admitting to being bullied; instead, there's more anger and a desire to seek justice. Since January 1998, and especially after the articles in the Times (11 January), Telegraph (29 January) and Guardian (25 April), more enquirers are determined to take legal action to stop the bullying and gain redress for their injustice. For legal information, click here.

Author's PTSD web site
David Kinchin, author of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: the invisible injury now has his own web site at http://web.ukonline.co.uk/d.kinchin

Investigative techniques
Many investigations into harassment and bullying eventually stall for lack of evidence. Tim Field has developed a new one-day training seminar on bullying investigation techniques in which he shares his unique insight into the mind of the serial bully, including guidance on spotting the lies, fabrications and distortions, and how serial bullies identify and reveal themselves through projection.

Sales of Bully in sight top 2000
Tim Field's self-published book Bully in sight has sold out of its first printing of 2000 copies and has been reprinted in March 1998 with an updated resources section.

Dignity at Work Bill*
The Bill completed its third reading in the House of Lords on 10 February 1997. In late February 1997, the Conservative Government objected to the Bill in the Commons whilst declining amendments offered. The Bill is on hold for the time being whilst the Labour Government's unveils its Fairness at Work initiative.

Data Protection Directive
The Data Protection Directive is a European-wide Directive (to be implemented by 24 October 1998) which gives employees further rights regarding the information held on their personnel record. The Data Protection Act 1984 already gives employees the right to see computerised information about them held by their employers. Legislation was then enhanced to include medical records.
This Directive goes further, extending employees' rights to paper-based information, and protecting their privacy. In particular, employers will be barred from collecting personal information such as ethnic background, political and religious views, union affiliation, and details of health and sexuality. There are exemptions where the information is to comply with employment legislation. Furthermore, employees not only have the right to see information, but have the right to be told that such information has been collected.

Workplace Bullying Web Site
These pages are believed to be the world's most comprehensive web site devoted to workplace bullying. Feedback welcome:

Tim Field, Success Unlimited, PO Box 67, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 9YS, UK

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