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Bullies Face firing under Zero Tolerance Crackdown

New research concludes that the UK workplace is increasingly becoming a zero tolerance zone for bullies.

The research into bullying, "Employee Codes of Conduct," found that eight out of 10 companies now have a code of conduct on bullying and harassment. And although such codes are relatively recent initiatives in UK workplaces, they are taken seriously - with a third of respondents saying that workers breaking the code would be fired. Only 6 percent of employers said they would give an informal warning.

Workplace bullying, while it has gotten some press in the United States, has become an important workplace issue in Europe recently (See "Bullying Becoming a German Occupational Hazard.")

A third (32 percent) of respondents also consider codes on bullying to be a priority for a well-run workplace, along with work safety (41 precent) and corporate confidentiality (33 percent).

Angela Ishmael, head of Dignity at Work at The Work Foundation, which conducted the research, recently gave evidence on workplace bullying at a House of Lords seminar on The Dignity at Work Bill. "Not so long ago bullying was seen by many organizations as little more than a challenging and forceful work style. It is good to see that the tide is turning, and that employers are more committed to creating work environments where employees no longer need to work in fear," she said.

Codes of conduct are a "useful litmus test" of the quality of management, she added. "To make the UK workplace a genuinely bully free zone, such initiatives need backing from the top, supportive colleagues, managers who will help people to raise their concerns, and a responsible work culture which tackles the causes and consequences of bullying and harassment before individuals are victimized and jobs are lost."

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