Mobbing

My Labour,
My Rights

Mobbing

Any form of psychological harassment at the workplace (mobbing) is prohibited.

Psychological harassment at the workplace (mobbing) is discrimination within the meaning of article 6 of the Law on Labour Relations (LLR).

Psychological harassment at the workplace (mobbing), within the meaning of the LLR, is any negative behaviour of an individual or a group that is often recurring (at least within a period of six months) and amounts to a violation of the dignity, integrity, reputation and honour of the employees and causes fear or creates a hostile, degrading or offensive behaviour, the ultimate goal of which may be termination of employment or resignation from work.

The perpetrator of psychological harassment at the workplace (mobbing) may be an individual or a group of people displaying a negative behavior, regardless of their capacity (employer as a natural person, a person in charge or an employee.)

Burden of proof in case of dispute

In case of a dispute relating to a violation of article 9-a of the LLR (psychological harassment at the workplace – mobbing), the burden of proof shall be placed on the responsible individual or group that are parties to a dispute on psychological harassment (mobbing) at the workplace, unless they can demonstrate that the different treatment falls within the scope of the exceptions referred to in article 8 of LLR. The employee who has sought redress against psychological harassment at the workplace (mobbing), and has testified in the course of the procedure, shall not be subjected, directly or indirectly, to impaired working conditions, i.e., shall not be placed at any disadvantage, in particular by reducing their earnings, transferring them to another job or by preventing their promotion or professional development.

Any type of harassment at the workplace, but also abuse of rights in terms of false accusations of harassment at the workplace is prohibited.

Psychological harassment at the workplace within the meaning of this law is any negative behavior of an individual or a group that is recurring, continuous and systematic. It is violation of dignity, integrity, reputation and honour of the employee and causes fear or creates hostility and humiliation, the ultimate goal of which is hurting one’s physical and mental health, jeopardizing their professional future, employment termination or resignation from work.

Sexual harassment, within the meaning of this law, is any verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior of sexual nature, the goal of which is, or it represents violation of dignity of an employment candidate or an employee, causing fear or creating hostility and humiliation.

Behaviour is considered to be psychological or sexual harassment if it has not discontinued following a written warning by the harassed individual stating their discontent with the behavior, whereby they shall consider it as harassment at the workplace.   

Perpetrator of harassment at the workplace

A perpetrator of harassment at the workplace may be an individual or a group displaying negative behaviour, regardless of their capacity – employer in the capacity of a natural person, a person in charge at the employer – legal person, employee or a group of employees at the employer, or a third person the employee or the employer comes into contact with upon undertaking work at the workplace.

Behaviour and activities not considered to be harassment at the workplace are:

  1. Individual acts by the employer regulating the rights, obligations and duties in employment, against which an employee is entitled to protection in a procedure pursuant to law;
  2. Depriving of and preventing one to enjoy and exercise their rights defined by law, collective agreement and employment contract, within a procedure at the employer or at a competent court;
  3. Any unjustified distinction made in the case of unequal treatment of the employee at any grounds for discrimination, which is prohibited and against which there is protection according to the law, and
  4. Occasional differences in opinion regarding issues and problems related to undertaking the work and work assignments, provided their goal is not to hurt or deliberately offend the employee.

An employer is obligated to:

  • Provide an employee with work at the workplace, in a healthy working environment under conditions respecting their dignity, integrity and health;
  • Inform an employee about measures and procedures related to protection against harassment at the workplace, as well as about the rights, obligations and duties of the employer and the employee upon establishing employment and in the course of work.

If the behaviour of a worker is inappropriate, unacceptable and undesirable, for the purpose of resolving the disputed situation or case without initiating a procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace, the employer is obligated to warn the employee about their intention to seek legal protection if such behaviour fails to be discontinued immediately.  

Employees and individuals on service contract participating in the work at the employer, are entitled to protection against harassment at the workplace, and are obligated to inform the employer if they notice any harassment at the workplace.

An employee or individual on service contract participating in the work at the employer, upon learning about certain behaviour they justifiable consider to be harassment at the workplace, is entitled to initiate a procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace pursuant to this Law.

An employee has abused their rights in terms of false accusations of harassment at the workplace if they have known or must have known there are no reasons to initiate a procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace, yet they have started or initiated the start of a procedure for the purpose of gaining financial or nonfinancial benefit for themselves or for others, or for inflicting damage to a third person.

 

Assigning a mediator

A mediator is a neutral individual mediating between parties for the purpose of resolving their disputed relation.  A mediator is selected from a list of mediators identified by the employer from the ranks of the employees.
An employer with 50 or more employees is obligated to draft a list of mediators to mediate between parties in case of harassment at the workplace.
In case an employer is accused of harassment at the workplace as a natural person, the employee exposed to harassment may initiate a judicial procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace at a competent court.

Responsibility for the damage

Damage caused to an employee as a result of harassment at the workplace by an individual in charge at the employer – legal person, an employer – natural person, an employee or a group of employees, or a third person the employee or the employer comes into contact with upon undertaking work at the workplace, is responsibility of each of the aforementioned persons separately.

Warning
An employee or an individual on service contract who believes they have been exposed to harassment at the workplace should address in writing the person who in their opinion harasses them, and point out their behaviour is inappropriate, unacceptable and undesirable, for the purpose of resolving the disputed situation or case without initiating a procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace, and for the purpose of warning them about their intention of seeking legal protection provided if the behaviour does not cease immediately.

Written request
An employee or an individual on service contract who believes they have been exposed to harassment at the workplace, prior to taking proceedings to a competent court, should request in writing from the employer protection against harassment at the workplace. Such a request may also be submitted by union representative, the individual in charge of safety and health at the workplace or human resource management, or workers’ representative, upon written consent by the employee who believes they have been exposed to harassment at the workplace.

An employee who believes they have been exposed to harassment by the management of a legal entity, or by a natural entity in the capacity of an employer, may bring civil action to a competent court following a written warning addressed to the perpetrator of the harassment, without initiating а prior procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace at the employer.

Contents of the request
The request should contain the following:

  • Information about the individual submitting the request,
  • Information about the employee who believes they have been exposed to harassment at the workplace, if different from the individual submitting the request,
  • Information about the employee who is believed to have been committing the harassment,
  • Brief description of the behaviour justifiably considered to be harassment at the workplace,
  • Duration and frequency of the behaviours considered to be harassment at the workplace, as well as the date of the last harassment act committed (stating facts and evidence).

 

Deadline for submitting the request
The request may be submitted no later than six months from the day of the last occurrence of the behaviour considered to be a harassment act committed at the workplace.
After this deadline, the period when one is entitled to initiate a procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace is considered expired.

Selecting a mediator
The employer or the individual in charge at the employer is obligated to propose mediation to the parties of the dispute, no later than eight days from the day of receipt of the request for protection against harassment at the workplace, for resolution thereof, or to ask the parties to select an individual from the list of mediators.
If parties and the employer fail to agree on the selection of a mediator, the employee is obligated no later than eight days, counting from the expiry of the deadline from Article 22 paragraph (1), to inform in writing the individual that submitted the request and the employee who believes they have been exposed to harassment at the workplace, that no mediator has been selected.
A deadline of 15 days to bring civil action to a competent court regarding protection against harassment at the workplace begins on the day of delivery or non-delivery of the notification/request within the deadline period defined by law.

Implementation of mediation procedure

The mediation procedure at the employer is urgent.
A mediator is obligated to act independently and impartially in such a way as to assist parties to reach a settlement.

Upon request of the parties, a representative of the union where the employee, or the employees’ representative is a member of may also participate in the mediation procedure.
The mediation procedure is closed to the public.
The mediator should conclude the mediation procedure within 15 days.

Successful mediation – signed agreement
If a mediation procedure is successful, i.e. if parties have agreed, the mediator should draft an agreement no later than three days from the completion of the procedure, containing recommendations for the perpetrator of harassment at the workplace and for the employer, for discontinuing the harassment and for removing the possibilities for continuation of the harassment at the workplace, and for transfer of the employee into a different working area, i.e. a different location.
The agreement is signed by both parties and the mediator.
The employer is obligated to act according to recommendations contained in the agreement.

Failed mediation – agreement not reached
If parties in the procedure fail to reach an agreement for discontinuation of harassment at the workplace, the mediator is obligated within a period no later than three days from the completion of the mediation procedure, to draft a written notification that no agreement has been reached, i.e. the mediation has failed.

Copies of the written notification about the failed mediation are delivered to both parties and the employer. 

Discontinuation of the procedure
if parties in the course of the procedure decide in a written statement to quit from further continuation of the procedure, the mediator is obligated to adopt a conclusion about discontinuation of the procedure no later than three days upon receipt of the statements.

A copy of the conclusion is delivered by the mediator to both parties and the employer.

Prevention of harassment at the workplace until completion of the procedure
If an employee who believes to have been exposed to harassment at the workplace has been confirmed by an authorized institution pursuing labour medicine to have an affected health status caused by harassment at the workplace, the employer is obligated to transfer the employee in a different work area, i.e. work environment until completion of the procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace.

Measures to define responsibility of an employee
An employer may impose one of the measures against disrespecting work order and discipline, or breaching work assignments in line with the law, upon an employee committing harassment at the workplace or abusing their rights in terms of false accusations of harassment at the workplace.

If an employee against whom a measure has been imposed for disrespecting work order and discipline, or breaching work assignments in line with the law, because of committing harassment at the workplace, repeats the harassment act within a period of six months, the employer may terminate the employment contract, i.e. impose the measure of termination of employment in line with the law.  

Protection of participants in the procedure
Initiating a procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace as well as participating thereof in the capacity of a witness, may not be grounds to placing the employee into a less favourable position in view of exercising the rights and obligations arising from employment, initiating a procedure for establishing disciplinary, material or other responsibility of the employee, termination of the employment contract, or termination of employment due to business reasons, within a period of two years from the day the procedure for protection against harassment had been initiated, or from the day the employee participated as a witness in the procedure for protection against harassment.

Civil action
An employee who believes to have been exposed to harassment at the workplace, and is dissatisfied by the outcome of the procedure for protection against harassment at the workplace, may bring civil action to a competent court.
Disputes initiated according to this Law have a character of labour disputes, hence the provisions of the Law on Civil Procedure are applied.

In a civil action an employee who believes to have been exposed to harassment at the workplace may require the following:

  • Recognition that they have suffered harassment at the workplace,
  • Ban for behaviours representing harassment at the workplace, or a ban for repeating the harassment at the workplace,
  • Undertaking action for remedy of the consequences resulting from harassment at the workplace, and
  • Compensation for material and non-material damage caused by harassment at the workplace.

Burden of proof

If the plaintiff in the procedure has presented evidence for probable act of harassment at the workplace committed, the burden of proof that no specific behavior considered to be an act of harassment at the workplace falls on the defendant.

Temporary measures
Prior to initiating a procedure or in the course thereof, the court may upon proposal of the party, impose temporary measures for preventing violent behavior or for remedying irreversible damage.

Temporary measures cover the following:

  • Restraining order pertaining to the employee’s workplace and
  • Ban on telephone calls and communication (verbal or electronic).

Inspection control
Oversight over the implementation of this law is undertaken by a state administration body authorized for labour inspection issues.

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by the Economic and Social Council supported by Strengthening Social Dialogue.

The project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the International Labour Organization

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The content is sole responsibility of the Strengthening the Social Dialogue Project
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Share

The Labour Rights Campaign is implemented
by the Economic and Social Council supported by Strengthening Social Dialogue.

The project is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the International Labour Organization

partners1

The content is sole responsibility of the Strengthening the Social Dialogue Project
and does not necessarily reflect the positions of the European Union.