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"Unlocking Secrets to a Stress-Free Workplace: Bullying & Respect Bill Meets Flexible Working Act

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

In the fast-paced world of work, addressing workplace stress and promoting employee wellbeing have become paramount. Let us delve into three key aspects that play a pivotal role in creating healthier work environments and safeguarding the mental and emotional health of employees: Workplace Stress Management, the Bullying and Respect at Work Bill, and the recently signed into law Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act.

  1. Workplace Stress Management: Whose responsibility is it to tackle workplace stress? A recent survey conducted by Robert Walters sheds light on this crucial issue. The survey reveals that 45% of respondents believe senior leaders and HR have the duty to address workplace stress, while 34% emphasize the role of line managers. Interestingly, only 18% feel that individuals should solely manage work-related stress.

  2. The Bullying and Respect at Work Bill: These findings are particularly relevant in the context of the Bullying and Respect at Work Bill proposed by Rachel Maskell. The bill strives to achieve several key objectives:

  • Introduce a clear legal definition of "workplace bullying" and empower victims to pursue claims related to bullying through employment tribunals.

  • Establish a Respect at Work Code, setting minimum standards for fostering positive and respectful work environments. The Code outlines how employers should handle persistent bullies.

  • Establish mechanisms for reporting and investigating incidents of workplace bullying.

  • Grant enforcement powers to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate and take action against workplace bullying incidents.

According to ACAS, workplace bullying constitutes unwanted behaviour that is offensive, intimidating, malicious, or insulting. It may involve the abuse of power and undermine or harm others emotionally or physically. Bullying can manifest as recurring patterns or isolated incidents, both in person and through digital means, and it may not always be readily apparent to others.

Interestingly, bullying can both stem from and contribute to workplace stress. Individuals with low emotional intelligence or those who express stress through irritability or anger may engage in bullying behaviours, fuelling a harmful cycle that perpetuates stress and bullying.

dark haired woman with bangs, probably Asian heritage. She's seated in front of her desktop, there's a tablet, calculator, pen, pencils, sheets of paper and a small yellow flowering  plant in a pot on the table. She's pinching the bridge of her nose.
Stress at work

Until now, there has been no legal definition of bullying. However, Rachel Maskell's proposed bill aims to change that, empowering employees and addressing workplace stress.

For a deeper understanding of the bill's implications, read this article from People Management on the pros and cons of the proposed bill -

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act: With the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act recently receiving Royal Assent, it heralds significant changes and greater support for employees and organisations in promoting workplace wellbeing with improved work-life balance. Notable provisions of the act include:

  • Workers' right to request flexible working from day one of a new job, with employers required to consider any requests and provide a reason before rejection.

  • Greater flexibility over where and when employees work.

  • Mandated consideration and discussion of employee requests, with the right to two requests per year, within two months of the request, down from three.

Flexible working encompasses a range of options, such as part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, or adjustments to start and finish times. It may also involve the option to work from home or a satellite office, shortening the commute.

CIPD research highlights that 6% of employees changed jobs last year specifically due to a lack of flexible options, and 12% left their profession altogether due to insufficient flexibility within the sector. This underscores the devastating effects of workplace stress, which can arise from various factors, including workload, poor training, lack of skills and confidence, ineffective leadership, bullying, work hours, and commutes, among others.

In conclusion, we recognise the potent impact of these three pillars - Workplace Stress Management, the Bullying and Respect at Work Bill, and the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act - in creating robust, vibrant, and happy workplaces. Managing workplace stress is a shared responsibility that necessitates collective effort from senior leaders, HR professionals, line managers, and individuals. Recognising the impact of stress on productivity and wellbeing, organisations are taking proactive measures to implement stress management programmes, employee assistance initiatives, and fostering open communication channels.

Now is the ideal time to assess your organisation’s wellbeing solutions. Are there any gaps that need filling? Reach out to us for support with wellbeing solutions, such as mental health and wellbeing training, workshops, away days, and leadership and team-building sessions.

Together, we can shape a brighter future where employee wellbeing stands at the forefront of workplace success.



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