New anti-bullying Code of Practice comes into effect

A new code of practice on preventing bullying in the workplace quietly came into effect at the end of last year. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have worked together to produce a unified code of practice encompassing both employment law and health & safety compliance.

The ‘Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work’ repeals the two separate codes of practice that were in place.

Prevention and resolution of bullying

The principal aim of the new code is to provide guidance for employers, employees, and their representatives on good practice and procedures for addressing and resolving issues around workplace bullying. The code recommends some new procedures around the management of workplace bullying.

To achieve this purpose, the code specifically:

  • Provides practical guidance on identifying, managing and preventing bullying at work arising from employers’ duties under section 8 (2) (b) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
  • Is based on good industrial relations principles governing effective engagement and processes in the workplace.
  • Highlights the procedure to be put in place by employers and the need to clearly state that bullying in the workplace is not acceptable and complaints of bullying will be dealt with sensitively.
  • Reinforces obligations for employers to progress complaints informally where possible, and otherwise, as appropriate, formally.
  • Emphasises the importance of records being kept of interventions and decisions in line with General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the Data Protection Act 2018.

Contact person

The code states that there may be value in appointing a ‘Contact Person’ who acts as the first step for anyone enquiring about a possible bullying case.

The appointment of a Contact Person often helps to resolve matters earlier and more effectively. The role of the Contact Person generally would be a supportive one: to listen and offer guidance on options in line with company policy and procedures, all on a strictly confidential basis.

This may not be practical for all organisations, however, where it is the chosen route, personnel for this role should be carefully selected and trained. The Contact Person will have no role in the investigation of any complaints and should not be tasked with any further involvement in the details or right and wrongs of a complaint.

Secondary informal process

A second key point to note is the recommendation to add a ‘secondary informal process’ to a bullying management process.

Should a first attempt at resolving a bullying complaint informally fail, or should any of the parties deem the initial informal process unsuitable, the code sets out details of a secondary informal process to consider before instituting the formal process, and a right of appeal.

The code acknowledges that not all organisations will have the in-house expertise to manage a full formal process and states that “…micro organisations will need to consider at the outset of the formal process how they would manage a request for appeal and this may require outside independent support.”

Conclusion

Failure to follow the advice contained in a code of practice is not an offence but the terms of the code of practice are admissible as evidence in the WRC, Labour Court and civil courts if relevant to any question arising in the proceedings.

Employers will need to review existing policies in light of the new code of practice and include any of the new anti-bullying procedures that are relevant.

Need our help?

For further advice on the Bullying Code of Practice, speak to an expert now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

Book a call with a consultant

Complete the form below and a consultant will call you as soon as possible.

Book a call with a consultant

Complete the form below and a consultant will call you as soon as possible.

Latest Resources

What happens when workplace romances go wrong

workplace romances gone wrong
First published: February 14th 2024 Last updated: February 14th 2024 Love makes the world go round, or so they say. But what effect does love […]

10 tips for handling an office romance

First published: February 12th 2020 Last updated: February 14th 2024 It’s estimated people spend a third of their life at work, so it’s no surprise […]

An employer’s defence to sexual harassment claims

Sexual harassment claims
First published: December 11th 2023 Last updated: December 11th 2023 While the vast majority of Christmas party celebrations pass off without any problems, there’s no […]

Olga Shevchenko

Director/Advocate, Immigration Advice Bureau

Olga Shevchenko specialises in immigration advocacy and consultancy, in particular, employment permit, visas, family reunification, citizenship, etc, for those seeking to visit, reside or invest in Ireland.

Olga provides extensive information, knowledge, and support to her clients, enabling access to positive solutions for people struggling to handle the immigration law.

Minister Neale Richmond

Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Neale Richmond TD was appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Employment Affairs and Retail Business and the Department of Social Protection in January 2023.

Much of his work at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is with businesses, workers, their representative bodies and the State Agencies to ensure that the economic recovery and growth extends to all parts of the country. He works closely with the SME sector, including retail, on building resilience and on the transition to the green and digital economies.

Mark Carpenter

Director of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs, Sky

Mark Carpenter is Director of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs at Sky Ireland. In this role he has responsibility for External and Internal Communications, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs and the company’s ‘Bigger Picture’ (CSR) programme. He also works closely with Sky Group teams on a variety of matters, in particular our partnerships with domestic broadcasters.

Prior to working at Sky, Mark worked as a Policy Officer in Houses of the Oireachtas and as a Management Consultant at Accenture. He has a BA in History from Oxford University and a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin.

Nora Cashe

Litigation and Compliance Manager, Peninsula

Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

Nora has extensive experience representing clients at Employment Tribunal hearings, Conciliation / Mediation meetings before both the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. 

Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

Managing Director, Genos International Europe

Deiric McCann leads Genos International Europe – The EU division of a world-leading provider of emotional intelligence solutions. 

With over two decades experience at the highest levels of management, Deiric supports clients to develop the resilience, emotional intelligence, psychological safety and engagements of their employees.

Rhiannon Coyne

Senior HR Consultant, Graphite HRM

Rhiannon Coyne is a Senior HR Consultant at Graphite HRM and will be providing an overview of best practice on how to deal with complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace. 

With a number of recent updates to employment laws, Rhiannon will take a closer look at employment equality and how it is interlinked to Health & Safety and what employers can learn from recent case laws.

David Begg

Chairman, Workplace Relations Commission

David Begg was appointed Chairperson of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in January 2021.

David is also a professor at Maynooth University Institute of Social Sciences. Mr Begg’s extensive history in the trade union movement included leading the ESB Officers Association and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, stepping away from the latter in 2001 to chair international aid agency Concern.

David Begg was also previously a director of the Central Bank of Ireland between 1995 and 2010.