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HR Tip: Bullying boss with no HR officer


These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Question: "Our boss is a bully. He makes some employees cry by shouting at them, he bawls people out publicly, and he is forever sarcastic. Can anything be done? We do not have an HR officer."

HR Tip:
This is a dreadful situation that describes both bad management and unlawful actions. There are two issues – what he needs to be told and who is to tell him. He needs to be made aware that treating employees in this way inevitably lowers productivity and in all likelihood increases sickness absence and staff turnover.

On the legal front any of his victims could leave and claim constructive dismissal, or could remain and sue both the company and the manager for causing stress, and he personally could be charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act and under the Public Disorder Act, which could result in him being fined heavily or even sent to prison.

He really does need to understand this, but who is to tell him? Ideally find one of his colleagues who can take him on one side and have a friendly but firm chat with him.

Alternatively prepare a script, book an appointment with him "on a personal matter", and explain the issue and the risks to him politely but firmly yourself. If neither of these options is practicable, can you send a letter to his boss pointing out the problem, the difficulties it causes and the risks to the organisation?

I appreciate that none of these is easy since someone has got to face the man. But if you can see no way to dissuade him from his actions, then one of his victims needs to talk to a solicitor who may write to the company threatening to take legal action if the bullying does not stop immediately.

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