Why should employers prevent mobbing in the workplace?

Legal alert (11/2015)

Recently, mobbing in the workplace has become a topic of heated public debate.

Recently, mobbing in the workplace has become a topic of heated public debate.

Data of the Ministry of Justice1 and General Inspector of Labour2 shows that the number of mobbing cases in court and complaints filed by employees against their employers to the Labour Inspectorate as a result of mobbing remains relatively stable (in 2007-2014 about 700 court cases instigated and about 1500 mobbing complaints filed against employers to the Labour Inspectorate every year). According to the General Inspectorate of Labour, about 500 of the latter are filed every year.

Survey results published by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CBOS)however show that one in six employees was bullied by his/her boss in the past five years and one in twenty claims this happens frequently. The same report indicates that almost one fourth of the employees stated that instances of being subjected to bullying by their bosses had occurred in their workplace.

The aforesaid statistics suggest that mobbing is quite common in many workplaces although very few victims choose to make a complaint against their employers (formal complaints as a result of mobbing are usually made after their employment is terminated).

At the same time the improving legal awareness among employees, mainly as a consequence of headline making court cases, can inspire many more to file lawsuits in the future.

Therefore employers should consider implementing adequate mobbing prevention programmes in their workplace.

Under the applicable law, it is the employer who bears the responsible for preventing mobbing which means that every employer should undertake adequate measures to ensure that mobbing does not occur in their workplace.

If the aforesaid duty is neglected, the employer will be held accountable for any instances of mobbing in the workplace even if he/she did not know about or take part in it.

There are a variety of consequences of mobbing for the employer.

First and foremost the employer may be liable for financial damages payable to the employee exposed to mobbing. Interestingly though, the law does not specify a top limit of the employer’s financial liability.

There are also other negative consequences for the employer (even if the employer wins the court case), including:

  • Loss of reputation
  • Long and costly court cases
  • Bad atmosphere in the workplace
  • Lower work efficiency
  • Negative impact on recruitment of new candidates.

The employer can reduce the aforesaid risk through taking actual, adequate measures preventing mobbing, such as implementation of the relevant anti-mobbing regulations.

If drafted and implemented correctly, such an anti-mobbing policy can significantly reduce the number of acts of mobbing in the workplace. They can also reduce the number of complaints made unreasonably in this respect.
3 "Szykany w miejscu pracy", Komunikat z badań CBOS, Warszawa, lipiec 2014

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