Anti-mobbing policy in the workplace
The provisions of the Labor Code introduce a legal definition of mobbing. Pursuant to Art. 943 § 2 of the Labor Code, "Mobbing means actions or behaviors concerning an employee or directed against an employee, consisting in persistent and long-term harassment or intimidation of an employee, causing him an underestimation of his professional suitability, causing or aimed at humiliating or ridiculing the employee, isolating or eliminating him. from a team of associates ".
To put it simply, it should be pointed out that mobbing is, in fact, the systematic behavior of the employer or co-workers in their professional life, which is characterized by hostility and unethicality, and which is aimed at the employee with the aim of intimidating, harassing, ridiculing, humiliating or excluding him from the group. employees, as a result of which the employee is left alone, unable to count on help and defense of colleagues.
Nowadays, when employees more and more often decide to publicize situations where they experience mobbing at work, it is necessary to answer the question whether the employer has any instruments that can counteract mobbing in the workplace? A good solution seems to be the introduction of an anti-mobbing policy by the employer in the workplace.
Anti-mobbing policy - is the employer obliged to introduce it in the workplace?
Although the law imposes an obligation on the employer to counteract mobbing, no decision has yet been made to regulate the need for the employer to introduce an anti-mobbing policy in the workplace, and it undoubtedly has many advantages, which will be discussed later in the article.The anti-mobbing policy is nothing else than actions taken by the employer to minimize the risk of mobbing activities, including a set of specific, organized and systematic measures on the part of the employer aimed at counteracting mobbing.
Already in 2011, the Supreme Court in its judgment of 3 August, I PK 35/11, indicated: “The obligation to counteract mobbing consists in careful action. Therefore, the employer should counteract mobbing, in particular by training employees, informing about the dangers and consequences of mobbing, or by applying procedures that will make it possible to detect and end this phenomenon. If, in the proceedings involving the employer's liability for mobbing, he proves that he has taken real actions aimed at counteracting mobbing and, by evaluating them from an objective point of view, it is possible to confirm their potential effectiveness, the employer may free himself from liability ”.
The employer is responsible for mobbing if he tolerates such situations, pretends not to know anything or turns a blind eye to it. However, if it introduces anti-mobbing procedures, not only can it reduce the risk of mobbing in its company, but it will also be able to free itself from liability in the event of mobbing, due to the obligation to counteract this phenomenon and take real steps in this regard.
If an anti-mobbing policy has not been introduced in the company, it may have negative consequences not only for employees, but also for the employer.
The negative effects of the lack of an anti-mobbing policy are:
- the necessity to bear the costs related to the proceedings before the court;
- the need to pay compensation and redress;
- lowering the work efficiency of the mobbed person;
- frequent absences of a mobbed person from work;
- making mistakes at work by a person experiencing mobbing;
- frequent rotation of employees;
- deterioration of the atmosphere at work, which may affect all employees, not only the mobbed person;
- deterioration of the employer's image.
What elements should an anti-mobbing policy have?
When deciding to introduce an in-house anti-mobbing policy, the employer must take into account two basic aspects, i.e. preventive measures and the complaint procedure.
- Preventive actions
Preventive actions must include, first of all, educational activities that will raise the employees' awareness of mobbing, but also contribute to the elimination of mobbing activities by making them aware of what mobbing is. In addition, preventive actions must include forms of assistance to a person experiencing mobbing, among which the following should be distinguished: legal, medical and psychological assistance. The scope of preventive actions should also include activities aimed at mitigating the effects of mobbing behavior, if such behavior has already taken place in a given workplace, in particular by monitoring mobbing behavior, but most of all by developing a procedure for reporting and verifying them.
The complaint procedure contained in the anti-mobbing policy introduced by the employer should first of all guarantee every employee employed in the company the possibility to file a complaint against activities that may constitute mobbing.
Most often, the complaint procedure is in writing. It consists in the fact that an employee experiencing inappropriate behavior at work on the part of co-workers or management informs the employer of this fact with a written complaint specifying what actions of his co-workers or superiors are, in his opinion, mobbing, with a simultaneous indication of the persons committing these actions, indicating evidence of supporting its position and justifying its complaint.
In practice, the question often arises as to how the employer should handle anonymous mobbing complaints. It should be answered in such a way that it depends on whether the employer decides to allow them under the provisions governing the anti-mobbing policy. The employer may or may not allow such complaints. In order to avoid any doubts, the content of the anti-mobbing policy introduced in the workplace should include regulations on whether anonymous complaints will be taken into account or not. However, it seems reasonable to allow in the internal anti-mobbing policy the possibility of anonymous reporting of mobbing behavior, because often people experiencing this type of behavior out of fear of their torturers - mobbers - will not want to disclose these situations, so as not to expose themselves to an increase in the behavior targeted at them. Similarly, witnesses of mobbing will not want to react to mobbing, for fear that they themselves may become victims of mobbering. Therefore, it should be recommended that the provisions of the anti-mobbing policy include the admissibility of submitting anonymous complaints, while it should be stipulated that anonymous accusing of mobbing is unacceptable.By introducing an anti-mobbing policy into their company, the employer may do so in the form of an in-house act in the form of an ordinance, regulations or other document.
Implementation of the anti-mobbing policy in the workplace
It is the employer's duty to familiarize all employees at the workplace - regardless of the form of their employment (employment contract or civil law contract) - with the rules of the anti-mobbing policy established by the employer and oblige them to comply with it. Each employed employee as well as persons commencing work for a given employer must submit a written declaration that they are familiar with the anti-mobbing regulations functioning in the workplace. Such a declaration should be attached to the personal files of employees kept by the employer.
The employer is free to develop an anti-mobbing policy. This means that it can prepare it without consulting employees. It is indicated, however, that for the success of this initiative it is important to precede the activities related to its creation and introduction by meetings with employees in order to inform them about its assumptions and to enable them to submit their comments in this regard.
The implementation of the anti-mobbing procedure in the workplace may be preceded by disseminating among employees a specially prepared bulletin containing basic information on mobbing. However, it seems more effective to conduct trainings, during which employees will first of all be introduced to what mobbing is, as well as explain its effects and indicate how to react.
One should also not forget about training the managerial staff employed by the employer in order to develop their ability to diagnose mobbing behavior, react to it, but most of all direct them to preventing mobbing.
The full implementation of the anti-mobbing policy in the company includes not only familiarizing employees with the entire procedure developed by the employer, but most of all its actual implementation. This means that whenever a complaint is made, the employer will respond appropriately.
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What is worth paying attention to when formulating an anti-mobbing policy?
An element that should be taken into account when defining the anti-mobbing policy in the workplace is the confidentiality of the proceeding caused by the filing of a complaint by an employee.
In addition, when formulating the assumptions of the anti-mobbing policy, apart from the designation of the employer and his seat, one should define the concepts of: mobbing, employer, employee, but also a person or body responsible for the verification of irregularities reported by an employee, as well as a detailed course of proceedings initiated by a complaint regarding mobbing in the workplace.
Due to the lack of legal regulations regarding the internal anti-mobbing policy as to who should verify the circumstances indicated in the complaint, the employer may independently undertake actions related to their clarification. In larger companies, this may prove difficult, so you should consider the need to appoint an Anti-mobbing Commission to deal with this. The most important thing is that the composition of the commission dealing with the investigation of mobbing in the workplace should be impartial. It is reasonable that its members are representatives of employees and the employer. It is possible for the commission to include a third party, e.g. a psychologist with knowledge of occupational psychology and conflict resolution.
It is worth considering the detailed regulation of the complaint procedure, including not only the form of the complaint, but also the deadlines by which, if possible, the circumstances reported by employees are to be clarified, the issues of entities responsible for the investigation, e.g. the anti-mobbing commission, the confidentiality of the proceedings and the form of termination of the proceedings.
Moreover, when shaping the anti-mobbing policy, the employer should consider introducing instruments aimed at strengthening the activities against mobbing. This may take the form of provisions of the anti-mobbing policy regulating the need to conduct employee training in the field of counteracting mobbing every year, but also the obligation to monitor the effectiveness of solutions introduced so far.
The employer, when preparing the implementation of the anti-mobbing policy in his company, will have to consider what sanctions should be faced by the mobber, i.e. the person who is the perpetrator of mobbing in the workplace in connection with the finding of mobbing. First of all, in such a situation, the employer should remember about the possibility of applying ordinal penalties provided for in the provisions of the Labor Code, i.e. reprimand and reprimand, the use of which is provided for failure to comply with the anti-mobbing policy in force in the company, which is in fact non-compliance by the employee with the established organization and order in work process.
In addition, other sanctions that the employer may apply to the mobber should be indicated, including:
- the possibility of terminating the employment contract through the fault of the employee without notice;
- termination of the employment contract;
- bringing the employee financially responsible for the damage caused to the employer in connection with mobbing;
- deprivation of employee rights dependent on the proper fulfillment of employee duties.
It should be mentioned that currently the practice of introducing an anti-mobbing policy has become widespread, as it can be found not only in large corporations or companies, but even among state administration bodies that apply it within their internal structures. Mobbing can happen anywhere, therefore it is recommended to introduce internal regulations aimed at counteracting it, because it is in the interest of both the employer and his employees.