WFH may not be working for everyone. A record number of bullying claims have featured in lawsuits at the UK’s employment courts over the past year, in a sign that while working from home is welcomed by many, it’s also contributing to tensions for others.
Employment tribunals, which hear actions brought against employers by workers, saw a 44% surge in cases that included bullying allegations, according to employment law firm Fox & Partners. The number jumped to 835 suits in the 12 months through the end of March, compared with 581 in the previous period. Employees can’t sue employers directly for bullying but can include it under discrimination or whistle-blowing claims.
The sharp increase shines a light on problems companies may be facing in dealing with problematic behavior in and out of the office. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel settled a tribunal case involving bullying claims by a senior civil servant last year.
The increase could be a wake up call for many firms and shows that leadership teams have “struggled to maintain healthy workplaces during the shift to hybrid working,” said Ivor Adair, a partner at Fox & Partners.
Examples the firm gave included patterns of bullying that are hard to identify such as leaving colleagues out of remote meetings, gossiping on messaging apps, and making cutting remarks on video calls that are hard to address.