Workplace bullying: how to deal with it
Workplace bullying is a widespread problem and it’s vital to ensure your beauty salon takes a zero-tolerance approach. Hilary Hall, chief executive of the National Beauty Federation (NBF) and National Hairdressers’ Federation (NHF), explains the steps you need to take in your beauty business to protect your employees and make sure you stay within the law.
What the law says
Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees.
In addition, the Equality Act 2010 says that it’s illegal to harass someone in relation to their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
What is bullying?
Workplace bullying and harassment is often psychological and verbal rather than physically. It may occur between colleagues or can be carried out by someone in authority.
Examples include spreading malicious gossip, insults and ridicule, excluding someone, unfairly blocking promotion, or unwelcome sexual advances or behaviour.
Your team must understand that such behaviour is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Always keep an eye out for any behaviour in your salon that is causing distress and make sure your employees know they can come to you in confidence with their concerns.
It’s good practice to have a bullying and harassment policy that clearly sets out:
- Your salon’s commitment to zero tolerance
- Confirmation that bullying and harassment are potentially disciplinary offences
- The standards of behaviour you expect all your employees to meet
- What employees should do if they want to report an incident
- Examples of bullying and harassment (see above).
It’s a good idea to involve your employees in developing this policy as this will show how seriously you take the matter. It’s also a good opportunity for everyone to voice any concerns they may have.
If an employee is being bullied
Always take any complaints seriously and treat them in confidence. You may be able to settle the matter informally, particularly if the person accused of bullying did not realise the effect of their behaviour, but if not, you may need to follow disciplinary procedures.
Consider all the circumstances carefully and objectively before acting, and ensure your employee feels safe and supported throughout the process.
The NHF offers a range of business support services for beauty salons, from legal, employment and financial guidance to expert advice for managing people and boosting your business. Members have 24/7 access to a free legal helpline which can offer information and advice on how to deal with bullying in the workplace.
You can find out more about Anti-Bullying Week here.