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HOUSE BILL 815: ANTI-OFFICE BULLYING ACT OF 2016

Baguio City - Aside from seeking greener pastures, there are other reasons employees leave their companies or offices.

Even if the pay and benefits are top-grade, peace of mind is something that some employees would never trade for a hefty pay slip.

A lot of employees witness or have fallen victim to some sort of office bullying, or in some cases, instigated them. While some people just tolerate them or found a way around them, there are times that it just becomes too much. If it happened to one employee, it could easily happen to another.

The best way to stop office bullying is to put an end to them as soon as they are identified.

The most common type of bullying at the workplace is gossip. Gossip is defined as the casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details, which are not confirmed as true.

In the workplace, office title-tattle are stories about other employees that may or may not be true but often sensationalized to perpetuate or maintain the interest of those who are hearing it.

When used to undermine another person, office gossips could drag the morale of the subject employee to the point that he or she loses interest to work or even show up at the office.

Gossips also have the ability to make officemates take sides, dividing the group into factions.

In extreme circumstances, office gossips can even lead to lawsuits for defamation, invasion of privacy, and even harassment. When taken to that level, the reputation of the company’s management, along with the company itself, will surely be questioned.

Office bullying or harassment is classier in the sense that the objective is defined before the aggression starts. The aggressor, so as not to be considered a violation of the office code of conduct, carefully executes the aggression, though obviously felt by the victim.

Workplace harassment is not office politics, though in some cases, an element of bullying is present when an employee is politicking. It is, likewise, considered a “normal” work hazard by many, thus, encouraging a culture of bullying.

House Bill 815 or the Anti-Office Bullying Act of 2016 at present is pending at the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation. The bill seeks to generate policies inhibiting employees and employers in government and non-government offices from performing acts that would cause lasting damages to their peers and co-workers. This will mandate all offices to adopt a policy on anti-bullying in workplace and to promote workplaces that are free from any form of discrimination, judgment, free from any influence of one’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, social status, or age.

While a law has been passed preventing and addressing acts of bullying in educational institutions, there still prevails bullying and other similar acts in the workplace. These acts in the workplace hamper a professional environment and disrupt the delivery of services to the public.

Bullying in the workplace is often overlooked. More often, it is done surreptitiously, in an organized or institutionalized manner, and condoned or ignored by employers or supervisors. It is often missed by employers and human resource or administrative personnel, but its ramifications are not limited to the negative effects upon the individual victims as it also leads to the deterioration of company or organizational culture, diminution in the delivery of services, and decline in employee morale and productivity.

Office bullying could be in the form are physical harm; emotional and mental harm, profanity, name-calling; negative comments on how a person looks and dresses; cyber-bullying; spreading of rumors; false news; and gossip.

For the management, bullying is committed through threat and intimidation; making of undue credit; and preventing access to workplace, career, and office opportunities.

If HB 815 is approved, all government, non-government offices, and business establishments, will be directed to adopt policies to address the existence of office bullying and other similar acts in their respective institutions.

For NGOs and business establishments, policies will be submitted to the Department of Labor and Employment, and to the Civil Service Commission for government institutions.

Other features of the proposal include “anonymous reporting” and disciplinary action will be applied to those who make unfounded accusations.

The Secretary of DOLE and chairperson of Commission of Human Rights will prescribe administrative actions.

Erring non-government offices and business establishments may also suffer the penalty of suspension of their permits to operate if they fail to follow the rules prescribed in the proposal.

END/Patrick T Rillorta

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2018-10-15
Dir.Exequiel Guzman
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