Working conditions

Prevention of mobbing

The International Labour Organisation defines mobbing as abusive behaviour through vindictive, cruel, malicious or humiliating attempts to harm an individual or group of workers. It includes conspiracy or mobbing against a selected employee who becomes the object of psychological harassment.

Mobbing (or: bullying at work) is characterised by constant negative comments or criticism, social isolation of a person, gossiping or spreading false information. Verbal and physical aggression and behaviour of an offensive nature is bullying. The employer is obliged to counteract mobbing. Countering bullying consists of training employees so that they are able to recognise the behaviour directed towards them and know what to do to protect themselves against such unlawful practices. Furthermore, employees must be given the opportunity to communicate (including anonymously) about bullying practices that occur. Therefore, employees should be provided with, for example, a dedicated e-mail address or a box posted in the company somewhere out of the reach of surveillance cameras (so-called suggestion box). The employer must analyse all reports of bullying sent by employees and take the measures in place to eliminate bullying from the workplace and prevent the risk of a similar situation recurring.

Bullying means actions or behaviour concerning an employee or directed against an employee, consisting of persistent and prolonged harassment or intimidation of an employee, causing an employee’s appraisal of his/her professional usefulness to be lowered, causing or intended to cause humiliation or ridicule of an employee, isolating him/her or eliminating him/her from his/her team of co-workers. The employer is obliged to counter this phenomenon.

An employee who has been subjected to harassment that has caused disorder may claim an appropriate sum from the employer as monetary compensation for the harm suffered.

An employee who has had his or her employment contract terminated as a result of harassment has the right to claim compensation from the employer in an amount not lower than the minimum wage, as determined under separate legislation.

What is important here is that the employer is responsible for bullying in the work environment, even if he is not the perpetrator himself. It should therefore not tolerate behaviour that has the characteristics of bullying by others, including, above all, by employees.