Wednesday, 21 June 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
57. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the reason it is necessary to wait for the results of the follow-up survey on workplace bullying before implementing the recommendations made by the expert group in their report. [23482/06]
The Expert Advisory Group’s Report on Workplace Bullying was launched and published by me on the 17th August 2005. The 2005 Report follows on from a 2001 Report by the Taskforce on the Prevention of Workplace Bullying. The recommendations of the 2001 Taskforce were implemented; the main ones being,
•the designation of the Health and Safety Authority as the central coordinating State agency. The Authority established a specialist anti-bullying unit and recruited a psychologist for the work involved.
Despite this, it became evident that the problem of bullying in the workplace has persisted. The Expert Advisory Group, which reported last July, although there was not full agreement within the group, made proposals to deal with the problem. An important recommendation contained in the 2005 Report was that a follow up survey on workplace bullying, similar to that commissioned for the 2001 Report, be conducted as soon as practicable to establish a baseline from which the effectiveness of the new structures and processes would be measured. I am implementing this Recommendation in order to have up-to-date information on which to base further action.
The Department advertised in November 2005 for tenders to undertake the survey but only one tender was received. It was readvertised in January 2006 following which 4 tenders were received. The contract for the survey was recently awarded to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) following a competitive tendering process. I understand that it will take the institute about 6 months to conduct the survey and report.
I have already given a commitment to publish the results of the survey and to bring the results to Government along with the Report and the views of the Social Partners and other interested parties. The Government will then decide on how best to implement the Report’s Recommendations.
When the report of the Expert Advisory Group was published 17 submissions were received in the Department from the Social Partners and other interested parties. The main elements recommended by the Advisory Group are that,
•there should be a statutory provision which required all employers to set down a policy in their Safety Statements to deal with incidents of bullying which come to attention in all workplaces, which the Health and Safety Authority would be responsible for enforcing
•if internal procedures did not bring about a resolution of a problem at the level of the workplace, even after mediation and investigation, then the State should legislate to provide the services of existing industrial relations machinery to investigate and bring a conclusion to each particular case,
•the recommendations of the Advisory Group in this latter regard are that the services of the Rights Commissioner Service should be availed of; and in the event of an appeal the services of either the Labour Court or the Employment Appeals Tribunal should be used. The decision of either of these two bodies should be final and conclusive; and if necessary legally enforceable through the civil courts.
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