Investigating complaints of workplace bullying and harassment
Presenter: Ståle Einarsen
Organisation represented: University of Bergen
The main learning objectives of this workshop are to:
- learn how to run a fair and thorough investigation process
- get a basic understanding of what constitutes bullying and harassment at work and to relate this to concepts such as fair and unfair treatment, as well as appropriate and inappropriate behaviours and experiences at work
- get an understanding of the basic principles of an investigative process and the need of well-developed internal policies
- acquire knowledge on general and basic legal principles and principles of a due process with natural justice applicable to such processes
- show awareness of the critical issues of the roles of internal of external investigator
- acquire some basic understanding of how such an investigation may be reported and the main content of the written report
- acquire basic understanding of important issues when planning, reporting and following-up such an investigation
Who is this workshop for?
This workshop is specifically aimed at advanced practitioners and policy makers, be it in the roles of HR managers and officers in private and public organisations, Occupational Health Service’s personnel, personnel from labour inspectorates, union representatives, or employer association representatives. The workshop will also be highly relevant for those in the role as a commercial external consultant in the field. The workshop may also be relevant to researchers in the field concerned with how these matters can and should be handled in organisations. The workshop is designed for those in a professional third-party role only. The personal experiences of victims will not be addressed in this session.
Following the European Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at work from 2007 and the 2019 ILO convention #190, all employers are obliged to develop policies against bullying and harassment including complaints procedures and procedures of investigation of specific complaints. It follows from the duty of care of all employers to handle and manage bullying cases in a fair manner that takes both parties’ interests and dignity into account and base any interventions on valid information and a firm knowledge of the facts of the case.
Such investigations must follow basic principles of natural justice and a due process, but simultaneously be based on basic knowledge and research from the field of work and organisational psychology on the very nature of workplace bullying and harassment. Doing proper and fair investigations of a high quality is a demanding task but is doable if following some basic and general principles. The workshop will look at these general principles, present the structure of the investigations and look both at the data-collection phase and the evaluating phase. In the latter we determine whether or not to uphold the given complaints. The evaluating phase consists of two phases again: evaluation of evidence and the facts of the investigation, and the process of determining whether the evaluated facts constitute bullying or not.
The workshop will contain lectures with some plenary discussion and case work, including a practical training session simulating the investigative process. The workshop introduces the principles of such investigations, but more training may be necessary to become a competent investigator.