Pink Shirt Day - Stand Up To Bullying In The Workplace

May 20th, 2021 - Barbara Buckett

Buckettlaw is proud to support Pink Shirt Day, which is marked tomorrow (21 May).

Pink Shirt Day is a movement to end bullying, celebrate diversity and spread aroha and kindness. You can bring awareness to this cause by sporting your most stylish pink outfit tomorrow.

A large portion of our life is spent at work. It is important that our workplaces are safe spaces in which everyone feels comfortable and can thrive.

Workplace bullying: a serious issue

In 2019 Stats New Zealand recorded that 11% of employees had experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying in the past 12 months. Workers of Asian and Māori ethnicity and women were more likely to experience such behaviour.

Buckettlaw is familiar with the very real health effects workplace bullying can have on employees (such as anxiety, high blood pressure, panic attacks). It also has an effect on employees’ job satisfaction and productivity.

Concerningly there is no statutory definition of workplace bullying. This has led recently to the Employment Relations Authority applying Worksafe New Zealand’s definition which is:

“repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that can lead to physical or psychological harm.

Behaviours such as teasing, undermining and ‘blanking’ can all amount to bullying. Bullying can happen upwards- for example, managers can be bullied by their staff.

What can employers do to prevent bullying?

A workplace culture with an emphasis on positive communication and constant awareness on workplace bullying and diversity from leaders is a good starting point.

Employers ought to have policies and procedures in place clearly communicating a zero tolerance to bullying/discriminatory behaviour. Employees should be provided with a channel by which they feel safe in raising bullying concerns.

How should employers treat bullying complaints?

Seriously. Once an employee raises a complaint, the employer must take steps to address it.

Where possible, such complaints should be resolved informally and not through an adversarial process. The behaviour is often a misunderstanding easily addressed through communication. This allows parties to repair employment relationships and grow by learning about the inadvertent impact their actions can have on colleagues.

Where informal resolution is not possible, the employer should follow a clearly defined process to investigate the concerns and if necessary, commence a disciplinary process.

We invite employers to commemorate Pink Shirt Day to bring attention to the serious issue of workplace bullying.

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

Enjoy a complimentary 15-minute phone call as a first-time offer.

Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

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