What can an Employee do ?
Say you have an Employee who has submitted a serious complaint about bullying in the workplace to the employer, about the employer or regarding fellow a staff member.
The complainant-employee is, for example, waiting for the Investigation Report conducted by the employer to conclude, or a third party regarding the bullying situation, but for whatever reason the investigation has not been concluded and the employee is left in no mans land as the conduct complained of still exists or has the potential to reoccur.
S.I. No. 17/2002 – Industrial Relations Act 1990 (Code of Practice Detailing Procedures For Addressing Bullying in The Workplace) (Declaration) Order 2002
The above-mentioned code of practice details procedures for dealing with bullying complaints in the workplace, but they also state that:
Every effort should be made to carry out and complete the investigation as quickly as possible and preferably within an agreed timeframe. On completion of the investigation, the investigator(s) should submit a written report to management containing the findings of the investigation.
What can happen is that parties agree to the timeframe, the employee is waiting for it to conclude and for the written report to be completed, and the employer then does not conclude the matter.
But what is the problem with this ?.
The problem is the employee who made the complaint might be working beside or under the person who is doing the bullying in the intervening period, making their life at work difficult and stressful.
The behaviour in question has to stop. The employee wants it to stop. It is incumbent on the employer when presented with a bullying complaint to take a hold of it and follow their own dignity at work policy and conclude the investigation etc.
If this situation drags on and is not dealt it, the question will come as to why the employer did not afford the employee with due care and fair procedure ?, and why the employer afforded the alleged perpetrator such latitude?.
An employer should be concerned about the health and safety legislation regarding their employee who made the complaint in this situation, and exposing themselves to a legal liability for the personal and professional stress caused to the complainant-employee in this situation.
If the complainant-employee takes a case regarding the stress caused by the undue delay on the employers part regarding concluding the investigation, a question will be put to the employer as to why they did not follow their own procedure time lines ? or the terms of reference timelines ?.
Legal Remedy Available to Complainant Employee
The complainant-employee can submit an application form to the Workplace Relations Commission and make the complaint under S.13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1967 which states:
Where a trade dispute (other than a dispute connected with rates of pay of, hours or times of work of, or annual holidays of, a body of workers) exists or is apprehended and involves workers within the meaning of Part VI of the Principal Act, a party to the dispute may refer it to a rights commissioner.
The Adjudicator officer ie decision maker at the Workplace Relations Commission can direct that the Employer publish the final investigation report immediately and award compensation for the stress caused by the undue delay.
Disclaimer for this Employer Delay Bullying Investigation Article
Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed.
It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute.
Legal advice should be sought from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.
Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.