Is bullying more than a bad working atmosphere? Is every differentiation discrimination?

These and other questions were answered by our employment law expert, Solicitor and Compliance Officer Katarzyna Hiller during a series of training sessions conducted for the firm’s clients.

According to publicly available data, in the first half of this year, the State Labour Inspectorate heard 1003 complaints about mobbing, according to the Chief Labour Inspectorate. From January to June, the highest number of notifications was in the capital, Katowice and Gdańsk. What does this mean?

On the one hand, this means that the problem really exists, but on the other hand, the number of complaints lodged in a national perspective implies that public awareness of bullying and other undesirable phenomena remains low.

In response to this, our employment law expert, legal counsel and Compliance Officer prepared a series of training courses dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises. As part of the training, Katarzyna Hiller raised awareness of what an undesirable phenomenon actually is and showed how to effectively prevent it and respond to reports in this regard.

What is an undesirable phenomenon? Is this just about bullying?

An undesirable phenomenon is, in practice, any situation that threatens or violates the legally protected interests of employees. Among the undesirable phenomena catalogued in the Labour Code, the main ones are:

  • violation of the dignity and other personal rights of employees
  • unequal treatment of workers
  • discrimination against employees
  • employee harassment
  • sexual harassment of employees
  • violation of rules of social coexistence in the workplace
  • use of mobbing

Undesirable phenomena in the workplace include various situations that can affect the comfort, health and safety of employees. The most common are bullying, discrimination and gender equality issues. These phenomena can consequently lead to reduced productivity, increased employee absenteeism and even conflicts and legal problems for companies. Therefore – for various reasons (not only legal, but also social and economic) it is worth preventing them.

Prevention of undesirable phenomena in the workplace

Proper prevention and management of undesirable occurrences in the workplace is crucial for organisations. Employers should create policies and procedures that promote a safe and healthy working environment and draw attention to equality and fairness in the workplace. In line with the principle ‘prevention is better than cure’, employers who want to effectively counter unwanted phenomena should implement appropriate procedures in advance to identify the harbingers of bullying or discrimination at an early stage, respond to them and reduce the risk of similar situations recurring in the future. The introduction of a policy countering unwanted phenomena in the workplace effectively reduces the risk of litigation, as such policies very often provide for internal investigations that make it possible to react and resolve problems without having to go to court. Moreover, it is the workplace that should be the first “source of help” for employees to counteract conflict escalation. Let’s remember that, as a rule, it is the employer – a bit like a parent – who is responsible for everything that happens ‘under his roof’. Undesirable phenomena are a challenge that companies have to face. Preventing and solving these problems requires commitment and education. Training for employees and managers is an important tool in building awareness and skills in this area.

Employee support is an important part of ESG activities

The acronym ESG is a popular sustainability tool that refers to environmental, social and corporate issues in the context of company management. ESG is a global trend that is becoming more important every day, so you need to know today how to take care of all your areas, including conducive working conditions, employee needs and employee health. Social criteria (for which the letter ‘S’ in ESG stands for) include promoting diversity and equality among employees, regardless of their gender, background, sexual orientation or other personal characteristics. In this context, pro-employee measures become not only part of the internal policy of the respective company, but also part of the ESG strategy.

 Żyglicka i Wspólnicy is a well-known partner in the field of labour law and personnel management. Our specialist training courses cover issues related to employment law, professional ethics, conflict management and equality and diversity in the workplace. In providing training, we combine two areas: “hard” legal requirements and the practical aspects related to cooperative communication. With the right actions and the support of, among other people, our experts, small, medium and large companies can create workplaces that are conducive to growth and, consequently, to the success of the company.

Author: Jarosław Basiura, Katarzyna Hiller


Katarzyna Hiller

Attorney at Law, Compliance Officer, LL.M. in International Commercial Law

Katarzyna Hiller