Half the population are bullied ... most only recognise it when they read this
News from the world of bullying during 1999
Please let me know of news, events, developments etc for inclusion
News of workplace bullying in the USA
News of bullying in Australia
News of child bullying and school bullying
2002 news | 2001 news | 2000 news | 1999 news | 1998 news | 1996/7 news
BBC News Online and use the search facility for "bullying" or "bullied"
World turns full circle
18 December 1999: an item in that august observer of life Private Eye (10 Dec 99, p6) reports that a number of hacks are complaining of bullying and foul language by Independent on Sunday editor Janet Street-Porter. One female reporter alleges she was repeatedly told her copy was, quote, "FAKHIN FAKHIN CRAP". I have been unable to locate the word FAKHIN in the dictionary and thus cannot offer an opinion. The article ends by reflecting: Who would have thought the day would come when journalists at the Indie would furtively swap the telephone number of the UK Workplace Bullying Advice Line? What irony. The UK Workplace Bullying Advice Line started life following an article titled Workplace bullies under the cosh by Paul Gosling on 28 January 1996 in ... the Independent on Sunday.
Personal injury claims blocked
18 December 1999: in a decision from July 1999 which is only now making itself felt, the Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Sheriff v. Klyne Tugs (Lowestoft) Ltd that personal injury claims resulting from harassment and discrimination can be dealt with at employment tribunal. The effect of this decision appears to be that people with tribunals in progress or whose tribunals were adjudicated since July cannot now separately pursue personal injury cases and in some cases appear to have lost the right to claim. At present the position remains unclear.
facing bullying claims
18 December 1999: the MSF Union has revealed that it is pursuing ten separate claims of bullying and two allegations of harassment against deputy president Ms Kamlesh Bahl. Other senior figures at The Law Society have also had allegations of bullying made against them. Ms Bahl is the former head of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) where she was also the subject of bullying allegations.
Ms Bahl is one of several high-profile figures this year to be be accused of bullying. In September, BBC weatherman Bill Giles was found guilty of bullying after a seven-month investigation. The verdict was overruled on appeal by the Met Office director. At employment tribunal in January 2000, GMB general secretary John Edmonds will defend allegations that he bullied and harassed his secretary Elaine Wright.
Longer hours, less
13 December 1999: a government report out today reveals that UK employees work harder and longer (average 44.9 hours a week) than our European counterparts but are paid less (£15,200 against the EU average of £17,270). The UK Competitor Indicators 1999 Report says UK industry lacks good managers and innovation, while its workforce has poor literacy and numeracy skills, a finding which conflicts with DfEE and Ofsted claims of "higher standards" in schools.
Our Healthier Nation
December 1999: the UK Department of Health is running a campaign to improve the health of the nation which includes a Healthy Workplace Initiative to place health as a core management issue. "A healthy workforce", the initiative states, "is a pre-condition for competitiveness and business success; it will also improve the health of local communities which provide the workforce". Strangely, the initiative contains little about bullying, the main cause of stress which is now the number one reason for sickness absence. There are links to government and other organisations Europe-wide dealing with health and safety at work.
Bullying in the church
9 December 1999: since setting up their Internet forum BALM (Bullied and Abused Lives in Ministry) to offer support to church ministers and their close family, Arthur and Pauline Kennedy have seen a steady increase in enquiries and been interviewed by various media about the problem of bullying within the church. See the UK Independent (8 December 1999) and Bullying of Clergy in The Electronic Telegraph (9 December 1999).
Andrea Adams Trust conference success
30 November 1999: over 120 people attended an Andrea Adams Trust Conference on bullying at the Barbican in London. With sponsorship by Personnel Today and support by video from Sir John Harvey-Jones MBE, delegates heard from a range of speakers representing the MSF Union, The Industrial Society, the Andrea Adams Trust, the CBI, and the TUC. In the afternoon, Minister of State Ian McCartney emphasised the government's commitment to tackling bullying. The inadequacy of the law in dealing with bullying was highlighted repeatedly, although there was general recognition that the problem needed tackling at source. Surinder Sharme, Corporate Equal Opportunities Manager at Littlewoods Home Shopping Group outlined Littlewoods commitment and experience of dealing with bullying. Littlewoods (agency shopping catalogues, IndeX Extra, Littlewoods Leisure etc ) have been pioneers in this field. The conference was co-chaired by Neil Crawford of the Tavistock Clinic and Peter Mead, joint chairman of advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.
Bullying rife in the NHS
30 November 1999: the results of a survey of 200 nurses undertaken by Ulster University in 1999 reported at the British Psychological Society's Scottish and Northern Ireland branch conference found that almost 50% of nurses said they'd been bullied at work in the previous six months. Half the nurses surveyed reported they'd seen other nurses being bullied. A poll of NHS nurses undertaken by Unison in October 1999 found widespread disillusionment with the majority of nurses feeling underpaid, undervalued and overworked. 90% of nurses reported that workload and stress levels had increased whilst 75% felt their wage did not reflect their contribution. 20% said they had second jobs and over 50% had considered leaving the profession.
Bully in sight now in third printing
28 November 1999: due to unprecedented demand during November, my book Bully in sight has been rushed into reprint again. Total global sales now exceed 3500 copies.
BT call centre strike
25 November 1999: BT call centres were disrupted by a strike by call centre operators claiming bullying and oppressive management. Call centres are environments rife with bullying, with employees (often on short-term contract, low paid and vulnerable) being forced to work like machines, having to answer calls within a certain number of seconds, having to complete calls within a set number of seconds, being subjected to regimented toilet breaks, and so on. Employees are constantly monitored by "supervisors" listening into calls who can impose disciplinary action for trivial infringements of the regulations, particularly length of calls. Charles Dickens would have recognised the working conditions. Concerns about stress levels, reliance on agency staff often at higher rates of pay, lack of job security, coercion, threat, excessive monitoring, understaffing and lack of privacy have not, allegedly, been taken seriously by BT management.
Having recently dropped BT as my main telecoms supplier I can appreciate the intolerable working conditions. When I moved house in May this year I was "persuaded" by a BT call centre sales operative to take BT Business Highway which has been the subject of heavy advertising. At the time, BT provided nothing in writing. Three months later after numerous services breakdowns - I had no business phones for 6 separate days in the first three months - and numerous calls on my cable phone (well done, NTL - excellent service and no problems) to report and chase faults, I eventually worked out that BT Business Highway was costing me FIVE TIMES a similar cable service. BT's claim of faster Internet access with ISDN needs careful checking - the line speed is often not the limiting factor for Internet access - it's the rate at which your Internet Service Provider's computer can fetch the required information over the Internet and respond to your requests.
Social services failing
23 November 1999: government figures out today indict 1 in 10 social services departments for failing their clients. Social workers are the third largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line.
Deputy head bullying case
19 November 1999: In Geoffrey Alan Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council and the Governing Body of Bishopton Redmarshall Church of England Primary School, Thornaby Employment Tribunal heard former deputy head teacher Geoff Hetherington describe how the arrival in 1995 of new head teacher Mrs Gill Wray led to a period of constant criticism, excessive monitoring and a tirade of unsubstantiated allegations of underperformance which brought to an unexpected end a successful 25-year career.
Supported by glowing testimonies from previous headteachers and also from numerous parents together with a congratulatory letter from the previous chairman of governors regarding his contribution to a successful Ofsted in 1995, the court was told how Mrs Wray prevented Mr Hetherington from fulfilling his duties and how her behaviour resulted in severe injury to his health. Mrs Wray's specious claim of "incompetence" was challenged by the Chair of the tribunal: "How can a teacher of 25 years suddenly be incompetent?", she asked. "Teaching has changed", was Mrs Wray's typically evasive and unsatisfying answer.
Prior to Mrs Wray's arrival, an Ofsted inspection in 1995 found the school to be "sound". The inspector wrote after observing Mr Hetherington's Key Stage II class: "Pupils are well behaved, help one another and are aware of the clear moral code that is in place. Pupils demonstrate positive attitudes to learning and apply themselves to their work making good progress."
Under Mrs Wray's headship, an Ofsted inspection in February 1999 highlighted major concerns: "...the uncertainty over long-term staffing in the school has taken up a considerable amount of time [with] the school's attention distracted from pursuing the many planned intentions to maintain and improve standards." Of the Key Stage II class, of which in Mr Hetherington's absence Mrs Wray was now a teacher, the Ofsted inspector observed: "At Key Stage 2 behaviour is more variable and the quality of behaviour in the classroom is often related to the unsatisfactory teaching . When they are required to listen to a teacher for any length of time the behaviour of some of the older pupils at this Key Stage II is sometimes less satisfactory."
Mr Hetherington is claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract. The letter dismissing him was not signed by Director of Education Mr Pennington. When questioned, he claimed he knew of the letter but "I considered it a not very important or significant case". Mr Pennington was asked if he was aware of the appeals procedure to which he replied "The law is confusing in matters like this. It depends on the circumstances. I don't operate at this level".
Mr Hetherington was featured on the front page of The Northern Echo next to an item featuring Prime Minister Tony Blair and his newly-pregnant wife Cheri Blair. Teachers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line, comprising around 20% of 3500 cases similar to Mr Hetherington and his case has been featured throughout the national press.
Further information: see teachers page, profile of the serial bully, injury to health caused by bullying, trauma caused by bullying. See also the report in The Northern Echo.
Day 2 of the tribunal took place on 17 December 1999. The verdict will be reported later.
Young people get their own news page
12 November 1999: news of child bullying and school bullying has been moved to a separate page.
Employers hiding stress costs
2 November 1999: companies are hiding the cost of stress from their shareholders, according to BUPA's Occupational Health Medical Director Dr Kevin Holland-Elliott, speaking at a WHO-sponsored conference on depression. Echoing HSE's Dr Peter Graham, he believes bad management is a major cause of stress which, Dr Holland-Elliott says, results in three times the expected rate of depression at work. See BBC News Online and use the search term: stress AND BUPA
Support group for Irish teachers
28 October 1999: Teachers Against Bullying is a support group based in Dublin, Ireland, to help teachers who have been, or are being bullied by principals and/or colleagues and/or inspectors and/or boards of management. It held its first meeting on Saturday 13th March 1999. The main aim of the group is to bring together targets of bullying and remove the isolation felt by people in this situation. The group has already prepared a submission for the government Task Force on Bullying. Click here for contact details.
US news on separate page
With the growth in awareness of bullying rising in America I've moved US news to a separate page.
Stress still seen as
Gee Publishing, authors of Absence, an Audit of Cost Reduction Methods (£129, 020 7393 7666), report that stress has overtaken the common cold as the Number One reason for sickness absence. However, old attitudes such as stress being an excuse for skiving are still prevalent according to the British Safety Council. Around 20% of companies responding to a BSC survey did not treat stress as a health and safety issue. Highest rates of absence were in the public sector, utilities and health, reflecting a similar pattern to callers to the UK National Workplace Advice Line.
Inland Revenue compromises counselling confidentiality
In three cases recently, the UK Inland Revenue has tried to coerce employers to reveal the names of employees who have received counselling at work. In each case the employers refused but the Inland Revenue imposed a block charge, deeming counselling "a taxable perk".
New Zealand's first work stress case
In the New Zealand case of Gilbert v. The Department of Corrections, former probation officer Christopher Gilbert is claiming damages for injury to health caused by work overload which he reported but which he alleges his employer did nothing to reduce. Gilbert claims that by failing to provide him with a safe workplace and by requiring him to endure excessive workloads without adequate or effective management, his employer committed a breach of contract. Gilbert is seeking NZ$900,000 compensation. The case, which is ongoing and continues in February 2000, was reported in SAFEGUARD update, the fortnightly newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Management.
Teacher stress case
October 1999: Ex-teacher Muriel Benson received a £47,000 out-of-court settlement from her former employer Wirral Metropolitan Borough after she was forced into ill-health retirement through excessive workload which she first reported to her employer in 1988. See BBC News Online at www.bbc.co.uk/news and use the search facility at the bottom of the page with the search term "Muriel Benson". Teachers and lecturers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and account for over 600 of the 3300+ cases logged so far. The NUT report they are pursuing 16 similar cases and have at least 100 more under investigation.
New web site on harassment
Solicitor Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden and barrister Neil Addison have created a new web site www.harassment-law.co.uk which looks at bullying and harassment in relation to the Protection From Harassment Act.
TUC Conferences hears about bullying
September 1999: This week's annual TUC Conference kicked off with some unwelcome publicity about bullying within the unions. Coinciding with a campaign to raise awareness of bullying, which it describes as spreading "like cancer" throughout industry, the MSF union announced it is acting for Elaine Wright, former secretary to GMB General Secretary John Edmonds. Ms Wright is taking her John Edmonds and her former employer, the GMB union, to tribunal, alleging victimisation. The case is scheduled for January next year. A protest by GMB employees outside Congress House on Monday to raise awareness of alleged bullying within the GMB was called off when the union promised an internal inquiry.
Whatever happened to...
I'm often asked what happens to people after they contact your Advice Line or browse Bully OnLine or read Bully in sight? Mostly, having been enlightened and re-empowered, folk go off and get their lives back on track, although this may take several years. In 1997, Steve Nicholls pioneered the first version of this web site, and he tells how he reclaimed his life and what he's doing now on the page workbully/nicholls.htm
Quote: "I have never been so happy in my life, and perhaps in the not too distant future I would like to be able to thank [the bully] for doing me the biggest favour ever."
Teachers' stress helpline
A 24-hour counselling helpline called Teacherline has been set up for stressed teachers in England and Wales. Run by Teachers Benefits Fund - Teacher Support Network, the charity is being supported with £250,000 of government money for its first six months of operation. The aim is to save £18 million through reduced absenteeism and sickness rates. However, any attempt to identify and deal with the causes of stress is conspicuous by its absence. For example there is no mention of Ofsted and its lack of accountability, the flood of tick sheets and assessments required for government statistics, the regular 12-18 hour days but reduced contact time with pupils, growing class sizes, the failure of LEAs to fulfil their duty of care, the number of bullying heads of departments and head teachers, or the fact that teachers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line. Click here for the real picture of teaching in Britain today.
Teacherline: 08000 562 561
World Mental Health Day, 10 October
The UK Health Education Authority (HEA) are coordinating the World Mental Health Day campaign (campaign guide is available from HEA, tel 020 7413 1991) to raise awareness of mental health issues in the UK, including the effect of abusive workplaces on mental health. A series of well-researched factsheets is available, including Mental health promotion and people at work, ISBN 0-7521-1698-3, available free from HEA Customer Services, PO Box 269, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4YN, Tel 01235 465565, Fax 01235 465556. The factsheet covers bullying, harassment, stress, depression, and further information and sources of support.
Central Television series on bullying
Central Television were delighted with the response to their series of programmes on bullying screened at the beginning of September 1999. For schedule, click here.
Tim Field's first public seminar
I'm organising my first public seminar on workplace bullying in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England on 25 September 1999 between 10am-4pm. For details click here.
Long hours discrimination case settled
3 August 1999: Former South African Airways employee Annette Cowley won her case for unfair dismissal after a tribunal found she had been discriminated against for being a single mother. Ms Cowley was forced to work 16-hour shifts, getting up at 5am and returning home at 10pm on a regular basis, thus never seeing her baby. When she pointed this out to her employer, they sacked her.
Many UK employers regularly coerce (bully) employees to work 60, 70, and 80-hour weeks or more, often without remuneration and with the threat, implied or real, of dismissal or "redundancy" if they decline. In Johnstone v. Bloomsbury Health Authority (settled out of court), the tribunal ruled that the employers' duty of care took precedence over excessive hours, even if the employer demanded long hours in the contract.
The tribunal ordered SAA to pay Ms Cowley three years wages, thought to be around £50,000. The case was supported by the MSF union.
ACAS publishes leaflets on bullying
29 July 1999: The UK's ACAS (Arbitration, Conciliation and Advisory Service) has published two advisory leaflets on bullying entitled "Bullying and harassment at work". One is for employees and the other for managers and employers. See ACAS press release for details.
Proposal to lock up psychopaths
13 July 1999: The UK government will shortly publish proposals to lock up of psychopaths who are considered a danger to the community even though they may have committed no criminal offence. The aim of this pioneering programme is to close a loophole in the law which says that people with severe personality disorders can only be detained if doctors believe they will respond to treatment. Doctors' views vary from belief in successful treatment (10%), to belief that treatment is not possible (10%), and undecided (80%). At the moment, psychopaths can be set free after their prison sentence and can only be detained again after they have committed another offence. Sometimes this involves murder or extreme violence. Around 20% of the estimated 2000 psychopaths in the UK are in hospital, 10% are in the community, with most of the remainder in jail. And these only the ones we know about.
The initiative is aimed primarily at people with severe personality disorders and comes in the wake of pedophile Robert Oliver, and Michael Stone, murderer of Lyn and Megan Russell. As with Thomas Hamilton (Dunblane), the warning signs were there but were ignored. Mental health campaigners express concern and hope that the proposals will be balanced by a programme of research. Most cases of workplace bullying involve a serial bully who exhibits the behaviour of a sociopath and who has a track record of destroying employees. I estimate one person in thirty (around 2 million) in the UK is a sociopath or has sociopathic tendencies which stress or the threat of exposure will reveal.
Abusers who exhibit sociopathic (psychologically violent) or psychopathic (physically violent) behaviour rely on the unenlightenedness, inexperience and, above all, denial of others for their survival and continued freedom. Whilst we can all recognise physical violence, we are only just beginning to recognise psychological violence. I explore the causes of sociopathic and psychopathic behaviour from childhood on my abuse page.
£84,000 award for bullying
8 July 1999: Council worker Cath Noonan has accepted an £84,000 out-of-court settlement from her former employers Liverpool City Council. Mrs Noonan was subjected to isolation (being sent to Coventry for 9 months), excessive supervision, being monitored at home whilst on sick leave, and specious criticisms about alleged lack of time-keeping. The former home help supervisor gained the impression that her managed was fuelled by jealousy and envy. In the Daily Mail, 8 July 1999, Ms Noonan is quoted as saying that "she [the alleged bully] did it in such a way that you couldn't actually put a finger on it. I would say that her barbs hit the target every time but she never left a trace." Mrs Noonan went on sick leave in 1995 and took ill-health retirement in 1997. She was supported by her union Unison, as was Ms Lancaster (see following).
stress case award
5 July 1999: In a case that has ramifications for every stressed employee - and we know that bullying is a major cause of stress, and perhaps the major cause - former Birmingham City Council housing office Beverly Lancaster was awarded £67,000 in a personal injury case where her employer accepted liability. Mrs Lancaster was forced to change job from senior draughtsperson to housing officer and was promised training which never materialized.
This is the first time that a UK employer has accepted liability for causing stress. The verdict is a ray of light for the millions of employees suffering stress at the hands of bullying bosses, but a warning to shareholders, taxpayers and donors who will have to foot the bill for higher premiums that liability insurers will now impose on employers.
The case also highlights the need for employers to differentiate the two types of stress: positive (which some people erroneously say is "good" for you) and negative. Click here for details. The only way of dealing with negative stress is to identify the cause and deal with the cause. Blaming the employee for the psychiatric injury resulting from prolonged exposure to negative stress caused by bad management and bullying is no longer acceptable. Lancaster v. Birmingham City Council is now case law.
Interest Disclosure Act and where
provided that the worker
2 July 1999: The UK's Public Interest Disclosure Act is now law. Under this Act, a worker may take their employer to tribunal for any detriment (dismissal, redundancy, etc) after the worker makes a disclosure (blows the whistle) relating to:
provided that the worker
All Acts since 1996 (and the Disability Discrimination Act) are held on line - click here to display.
Credit card ordering
I can now accept credit card payment for book orders.
Book orders, training, business, and media requests: Telephone 0700-ACHIEVE (2244383)
(calls are charged at normal BT national rates - this is not a premium line)
To pay by credit card, please have your card details ready.
If I'm not in the office, leave a message and I'll get back to you.
Address for all correspondence: Success Unlimited, PO Box 67, Didcot, Oxon OX11 9YS, UK
You can order books by phone, fax, email or letter. To see book descriptions, click here.
UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line: 01235 212286 (recorded message with instructions on how to obtain my latest workplace bullying information sheet and newsletter - send an A4/A5 stamped addressed envelope with two loose 19p stamps (or similar) to the address above) [calls are charged at normal rates - this is not a premium line]
When you write or email, let me know if you are a teacher as I have further information.
I regret I am no longer able to provide telephone counselling, nor ring Advice Line callers back.
You can email me for further information, eg a list of useful words and phrases for challenging the bully.
Currently operating helplines are listed on the links page.
1-year qualifying period
As of 1 June 1999 the qualifying period of continuous employment needed to acquire the right not to be unfairly or constructively dismissed is reduced from two years to one year. The qualifying period of continuous employment needed for the entitlement, on request, to a written statement of reasons for dismissal as also reduced from two years to one year.
3000 copies sold
I'm delighted to report that sales of Bully in sight exceeded 3000 last week (18 May 1999). Bully in sight was published in December 1996 and reprinted in March 1998. Feedback is phenomenal ... see selected quotes. You can order a signed copy online or by fax, letter, or phone on 0700-ACHIEVE (2244383). See contact details below.
Healthy workplace initiative
Tessa Jowell, UK Minister for Public Health, announced in March 1999 the DTI/HSE Healthy Workplaces Initiative. The aim is "to place health in the mainstream of business thinking and organisational development because we recognise that improved health for people at work offers real gains to employers and employees through improved productivity, lower rates of sickness absence, less time to recovery, a quicker return to work, fewer accidents and less illness". You may wish to write to Ms Jowell pointing out the damage that stress caused by bullying and harassment is wreaking on British business and the public sector. Keep your letter short (preferably one side of A4, not more than two), polite, and concentrate on the costs to industry and taxpayers (see workbully/costs.htm for inspiration):
Ms Tessa Jowell
Minister for Public Health
House of Commons
London SW1A 0PW
Pioneer dies from cancer
It is with regret that I report the death at the beginning of March of Professor Heinz Leymann who had been battling against cancer for over a year. Prof Leymann was one of the pioneers in recognising and identifying the psychiatric injury caused by bullying and harassment, and his work stretched back to the early 1980s. His clinic for treating people traumatised by bullying in Sweden was the first of its kind. We extend our condolences to his family. You can visit his web pages at http://www.leymann.se/English/frame.html
Tim Field honoured with doctorate
I am delighted to accept the award of Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Mellen University. The award has been made for the "significant contribution to society"of my book Bully in sight and my work through the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and Bully OnLine. I am especially honoured, being one of the youngest recipients of such an award, which was conferred at a ceremony in London on Sunday 7 March 1999. More details later.
TUC and Industrial Society workplace bullying video
The TUC and The Industrial Society have launched a new video on workplace bullying today (Thursday 18 February 1999). See the press releases page on the TUC web site at http://www.tuc.org.uk/. The video is also available from The Andrea Adams Trust, cost £795 (preview available), tel 01273 704900, email firstname.lastname@example.org
New investigation seminar introduced
Until recently, the resolution of most cases of bullying failed to get off the ground because of "lack of evidence". I've now introduced a new 2-day seminar to advise both employers and unions on how to investigate bullying cases, including: what constitutes, evidence, where to find it, how to interpret it, how to interview the parties and interpret responses and body language, and above all, how to identify the patterns by which bullying reveals itself. At the heart of most bullying is a serial bully, male or female, who is a compulsive liar with a Jekyll & Hyde nature who uses mimicry and charm to deceive. This individual's aggressive behaviour (to which they themselves are oblivious - this is a feature of personality disorders) can cause an entire organisation to become dysfunctional.
Poor pay in the NHS under the spotlight again
The MSF union has published figures which suggest that many NHS staff can earn more money by working at a supermarket checkout than in their chosen profession within the NHS. The union found that 65,000 graduate health service scientists earned around £7476 a year, compared to over £9000 for a checkout operator. A 16% rise in NHS pharmacist vacancies has also been reported at a time when recruitment levels of NHS nurses have fallen below the rate of nurses leaving the profession.
Bully OnLine restructured
Bully OnLine now contains over 50 pages of insight and information and the time has come for a revamp. Surfers should notice no difference but if you find any dead links please let me know - thank you. The two main differences are that details of training and books have been moved to separate directories (you guessed it, I've got more training seminars and more books underway) and the Where now? links have been rearranged in the style of search engines and other professional web sites (this will improve consistency, ease of use, and make downloading quicker).
Government puts forward Fairness at Work Bill
The Fairness at Work white paper published by the Labour government in May 1998 has resulted (28 January 1999) in a Bill to be put before Parliament. The Bill proposes, amongst other things, better maternity and paternity rights, automatic union recognition if 50%+1 employees are union members, and equal rights for part-time and full-time workers.
However, the Bill does not address bullying, and whilst the raising of the cap for unfair or constructive dismissal from £12,000 to £50,000 is welcome, it will still be cheaper for employers to dismiss employees who are heading for a stress breakdown (perhaps through the employer's failure to identify and deal with the causes of stress) before the employee's health is so severely injured that he or she finds themself in a position of having to consider a personal injury claim for the damage to health caused by chronic stress. The white paper suggested bringing unfair and constructive dismissal legislation into line with sex, race and disability discrimination, but the government, in the guise of former Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson, has bowed to CBI pressure on this point.
Bullying is a serious
problem in the NHS
A staff questionnaire survey by Lyn Quine in the BMJ Volume 318, 23 January 1999 reports that bullying is a serious problem in the NHS and is experienced by more than one in three staff. Two thirds of those bullied had tried to take action against the bullying, but most were dissatisfied with the outcome. The bullying had resulted in significantly lower levels of job satisfaction, higher levels of job induced stress and anxiety, with an increased intention to leave the job.
Nursing, healthcare, and the voluntary sector (especially elderly care and childrens' charities) have accounted for the largest growth in Advice Line calls during 1998. In the NHS, high expectations imposed by government have led to patients and their relatives demanding more and more, understaffing and excessive working hours and regimes are now the norm, and there's been a significant rise in the levels of violence that nurses experience. It's hardly surprising that, as with teaching, more nurses are now leaving the profession than are joining it. The government's answer is to fly in temporary nurses from Australia, South Africa and the Philippines - which neither identifies nor addresses the cause of the nurse shortage problem.
Meanwhile, the results of a staff survey at Berkshire Health Authority leaked to the Reading Chronicle (29 January 1999) reveal that health staff are at breaking point, with insecurity and uncertainty rife. Comments included "I am looking for other employment" and "The authority does not value its staff" and "I can see no way forward", with many staff also critical of senior management. Chief executive Crispin Kirkman was singled out for particular criticism.
Headmaster resigns after
January 1999: headmaster of Sherborne Preparatory School Robin Lindsay has resigned after numerous investigations found his behaviour with young boys at the school "inappropriate". At an Independent School Tribunal, treasury barrister David Elvin acting for the DfEE said Lindsay, under police questioning, had admitted to behaviour which was later classed as a "fixated paedophile".
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
Fax +44 (0)7000-785776
Tel +44 (0)700-ACHIEVE (2244383)
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