Employers - commit to impartial grievance processes for workplace bullying complaints

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Lucy Nichol
Lucy Nichol signed this petition

This petition asks government to back a new way for businesses to conduct internal grievance processes impartially, ensuring fair and transparent investigations.


How many employees refuse to lodge grievances, particularly against senior management, because they are scared of the consequences and how this may impact on their career? Additionally, how many HR professionals feel uncomfortable when a grievance is lodged against senior leaders and they feel their hands are tied?

This petition ISN'T suggesting that all grievances are biased or corrupt. But what it IS suggesting is that the process isn't designed to cover all circumstances impartially in the first place. How can it?

Often, individuals who file grievances are daunted at the prospect. It's an incredibly stressful process, particularly for individuals who are being bullied or feel they are being discriminated against. It can cause intense stress and exacerbate problems such as mental health conditions. It can add to an already uncomfortable situation.

I believe there needs to be an alternative to the standard first port-of-call internal grievance process to ensure impartiality.

But how might this look?

One idea is for a central body to hold a register of organisations who are willing to share their trained investigative resource externally. Internal resource is already accounted for to cover internal grievances. But what if organisations shared this resource so that all grievances were handled objectively from the start? So that the initial investigation was impartial and conducted by a neutral party? Somebody who is able to investigate fairly without fear of reprimand if they were to find a senior leader had a case to answer?

I feel that this should be compulsory, however, even if it was available in a voluntary capacity it would show which employers were truly committed to impartiality and fair working conditions by the inclusion of their names to the register.

Personal story
I have personally experienced bullying and the incredibly stressful grievance process. I cannot discuss when or where this happened during my 20-year career for legal reasons. But I can discuss the impact.

Bullying resulted in me being prescribed medication as my existing anxiety disorder was being made worse by a toxic working environment. I have also taken beta blockers prior to certain meetings, cried publicly in the office, locked myself in the toilets, had panic attacks on the way into work, had panic attacks in the office, experienced sleeping problems and found family, social and colleague relationships challenging.

As an employee, you feel as though you have a black mark against you, a dark secret that will affect your future prospects because you tried to stand up to bad behaviour. This isn't right or indeed fair.

So whilst I can't discuss my own experiences in detail, I have recently interviewed many other people who have gone through similar experiences and the impact that this has had. I have also seen friends and family go through similar experiences. And I believe that the current system does not adequately support victims of workplace bullying. Something needs to change.