A York MP is to present a bill to parliament seeking to stamp out bullying at work by providing robust mechanisms for reporting, investigation, and enforcement.

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, will seek to table her Bullying and Respect at Work Bill today (July 11), which aims to address the issue of workplace bullying whilst also advancing positive behaviours within work environments.

The Bill would introduce a legal definition of workplace bullying, establish mechanisms for reporting and investigating incidents, and promote positive behaviours through a Respect at Work Code, with enforcement powers by the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

Speaking to the PA news agency about her proposals, the Labour MP highlighted the lack of a direct route to restitution within the current legal framework.

She stressed that other jurisdictions, such as Australia, Canada and other European countries, have already enacted laws to combat workplace bullying.

She said: “In regard to bullying, there’s no legal definition as such. Acas (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have got a definition within their code of practice.

“There is no direct route to restitution either in law. So at the moment, you could resign from your post and claim unfair dismissal and go for that kind of channel or there is protection from harassment.

“That was the stalkers legislation, but that is not suitable. It’s not designed to address workplace bullying.

“Jurisdictions across the world have already put this into statute. So if you look at Australia, Canada, Scandinavian countries, Netherlands and others in Europe, they are so much further ahead.”

Ms Maskell also stressed how workplace bullying is a pervasive and widespread problem in the UK, with research suggests 4.9 million people, or 15 per cent of the UK workforce have experienced bullying at work.

York Press: Rachael Maskell, MP for York CentralRachael Maskell, MP for York Central (Image: Danny Lawson/PA)

“There’s clearly a cost to employers and also a significant loss in working days. People who have experienced bullying often end up going off sick. And somebody can be off for a long time, and often, they leave their employment all together”, she said.

Asked how her Bill would help, Ms Maskell told PA: “First of all, it would have a chilling effect on negative behaviour.

“It will mean employers will have to take responsibility for the conduct of others in their workplace and it would ensure that they don’t sit on cases of bullying, which often happens.

“The final strand of my Bill will be to promote positive behaviours through a Respect at Work Code, and to see enforceability by the HRC.”

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Nicki Eyre, director of Conduct Change Advocates and Stop the Hurt at work campaigner, said: “I am delighted to see the proposed Bullying and Respect at Work Bill being championed by Rachael Maskell. Our movement aims to shed light on the issue of workplace bullying and the urgent need for its recognition within the framework of UK legislation.

“This Bill represents a significant step forward in the journey to addressing workplace bullying and fostering a culture of respect within UK workplaces. I am particularly pleased to see the cross-party support this proposal has already achieved.”

Ms Maskell will present her Bill via the 10-minute rule motion procedure, which allows her 10 minutes to outline her proposals.

The Bill is unlikely to make further progress in its current form due to a lack of parliamentary time to debate Bills tabled by backbench MPs.