Rishi Sunak will decide on Thursday whether to fire Dominic Raab, the UK deputy prime minister, over bullying allegations.

Mr Raab denies all allegations of bullying, stating “If an allegation of bullying is upheld, I would resign.”

He is under investigation for eight formal complaints during his time as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and justice secretary.

In November, Sunak gave senior employment lawyer Adam Tolly KC the responsibility of independently enquiring into the complaints.

However, the inquiry has been lengthy and complex, going on for almost five months.

The report is expected to be finished within the next day or two, leaving Sunak with the evidence to decide whether Mr Raab has broken the ministerial code and must be fired.

What does all this mean for HR?

A recent survey by Irwin Mitchell into workplace behaviour found that 32 percent of the UK have experienced bullying disguised as banter.

It also found that 45-54 years-olds are the most likely age group to have experienced this type of bullying.

Workers in the North-West are the most likely to have experienced bullying disguised as banter (37%)

In addition, over 35 percent of women in the UK workplace have experienced bullying disguised as banter

This poses serious concerns about whether employees can identify unlawful behaviour in the workplace, giving them the right to bring employment claims such as discrimination and constructive dismissal.

Deborah Casale, employment partner at Irwin Mitchel, says:

“There really is no excuse for treating employees in this way. Whilst some may consider banter to be light-hearted, making jokes at the expense of an employee or making inappropriate comments, can lead to staff feeling uncomfortable in the workplace and in the worst cases make them feel that they have no choice but to leave their position.

“If an employee is being made to feel they’re not wanted and resigns as a result of an employer’s behaviour, this could be considered “quiet firing.” This can form grounds for constructive dismissal if it breaches the implied term of trust and confidence in the employment relationship and the employee has more than two years of service.

“If the comments are discriminatory, two years of service are not required. Employees should be aware of their legal rights in these situations and should take advice at an early stage to protect their position – ideally before resigning. Likewise, employers should ensure that staff are properly trained as to what could constitute inappropriate behaviour.”

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.