March 24, 2007

New Research on Bullying & Harassment at Work - Toolkit Published: The Barriers to Returning to Work Post-Bullying

The Government is being called on to do more to help victims of bullying and harassment at work. Just Fight On! have published a Return to Work Toolkit looking at the barriers to returning to work after being bullied and harassed at work, including some shocking findings. This is the first assessment of what happens post-workplace bullying in the world.

Key Findings

Our assessment of bullying and harassment and it's impact looked at the cost to the individuals affected, to employers and the Government.

Of the 65 UK based respondents to the questionnaire, 34 had been on Incapacity Benefit [IB] for more than a month - so far. Of those, 47% had been on IB for than 2 years and 18% for more than 4 years. 70% of respondents felt the harassment had a severe impact on their mental health.

45% of respondents felt the harassment had a severe impact on their physical health.

Our findings showed that the mechanisms currently in place to deal with bullying and harassment are not working. Two thirds of respondents said their employer had a policy on bullying and harassment, however 100% said it was not effective. Every respondent who spoke to the harasser was not satisfied with the outcome;

90% of those who made an informal complaint were not satisfied with the outcome; nor were 95% of those who made a formal grievance. 84% of those who sought union representation were not satisfied. [We have been through this before, i.e. the inaction and/or the less than satisfactory stance of our academic union. Please read here and here.]

Specific feedback that features in the Toolkit identifies a major lack of understanding, a failure to take bullying seriously and little support and help available to get people back to work.

Jo Anne Brown, Chair of JFO and the Toolkit developer commented "There is a lack of support and help to enable people to get back to work after being bullied. People who are harassed find themselves without a job, without their health and discriminated against when trying to find employment because they are seen as 'trouble-makers'. The Government need to urgently look at dedicating resources to help people affected by workplace bullying; they would save the benefits paid to people who become unemployed or too ill to work and stop huge amounts of income tax being lost."

96% of respondents believed the following outcomes to their employment was directly related to the harassment.

24% resigned

16% were sacked

9% were ill-health retired

A further 3% were retired early

The questionnaire found significant barriers to returning to work because of bad references, finding it difficult to explain to potential employers gaps on their CV, that they had left their job because of harassment and a perception that employers view people with a history of mental illness as a liability.

56% of respondents worked for the public sector and 29% the private sector. Two thirds of respondents were in a manager/senior role or professional occupation; almost two thirds were earning more than £25,000 per annum and more than a third earned over £40,000.


Our conclusion is that the cost of employees becoming unemployed or too ill to work because of bullying and harassment and the associated health care costs is considerable and one that cannot be ignored. Tackling bullying and harassment needs all parties to be involved if it is to be effective and this is the same to enable an effective return to work. The resources needed to effectively reduce time out of work would bring a significant saving through the provision of dedicated help and support in getting people back to work...

Statistics and facts

It is estimated that bullying and harassment contributes towards 18 million lost working days every year [TUC] and costs the UK economy £2 billion per annum [CIPD]. There is currently no funding for dedicated help, advice or support to enable victims of bullying to return to work, some of whom have lost their jobs, been on long-term incapacity benefit or seeking to return to their existing employment after significant periods of sick leave...

About Just Fight On!

JFO is a not for profit organisation operating the Centre Against Workplace Bullying UK to help victims of bullying and harassment at work. They provide advice, support and training. Website:


Anonymous said...

The website for JFO offers a different kind of support from this blog. I have found both to be very useful.

Both are building up a base of support from which individuals can explore their own circumstances of wpb.

Both sites have identified the difficulties that members encounter in obtaining support from unions in cases of wpb. This suggests that it is not only UCU that experiences problems in grappling with wpb. It would be useful to explore this further through a literature search.

Why do unions have such difficulties in supporting members who experience bullying? Why are they more comfortable with anything that doesn't have the tag wpb attached to it?

(The links to discussions here re unions came up with an error message.)

JFO work with people from a range of work situations not just academics. It is a site where we explore our experiences of being bullied and support each other.

It is a site which unusually includes people who try to grapple with wpb rather than walk away from it. Those of us who try to address wpb risk our health. The strategies that are used against us are to wear us down so that in the end we too walk away.

But we're not walking away yet...

...we are fighting on against the denial and the silence that surrounds us.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

I'm a member of jfo and the support there is great. However, I believe that there a times when it's best not to fight on. I fought on for a while and then I realised that I was just prolonging my agony so I stopped fighting and let events play themselves out - it's the best thing I ever did because the bully has gone on to bully almost everyone in my team and now they realise that I was being bullied.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered the death penalty for those found guilty of workplace bullying and harassment? Not an unrealistic question given the long term damage that this can have on an individual.