Preventing and combating mobbing as a novelty in labour legislation of Ukraine.
Preventing and combating mobbing as a novelty in labour legislation of Ukraine
Ukraine has made a firm choice for its future towards the European way and complete integration with the EU. To that end, our state has undertaken a range of liabilities within the Association Agreement  for further adaptation and harmonization of Ukrainian laws to the provisions of the EU directives. Labour protection laws belong to priority branches requiring adaptation. Sincerely our labour legislation does not always correspond to modern realities and challenges. Moreover, there is a list of matters uncovered with regulations but required to protect subjects of labour relations, among them – those preventing and combating mobbing.
For this reason, on August 15, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a draft law No. 5748 “On Alterations to some Laws of Ukraine on Combatting Law Infringements in the Sphere of Labour”  (Draft Law No.5748) as a background. The document implements changes to the Labour Law Code of Ukraine and offers to upgrade an employee’s background labour rights with the one to a “decent attitude at work”. In other words, the purpose of the Draft Law No.5748 is to resist mobbing against employees at their working places.
What is mobbing? According to the definition provided in Draft Law No.5748, the term mobbing (persecution) includes activities of an employer or staff member intended to humiliate the victim’s honour, dignity, professional or business reputation. There could be psychological and/or economic suppression, including those through electronic communication means, surrounding such an employee with a tense, hostile, offensive atmosphere forcing such a person to underestimate his/her professional skills.
A Swedish scientist, psychologist H. Leymann  was the first to offer the term “mobbing” in the early of 1980th. Leymann examined interpersonal relations between an employer and an employee at work and their expression through hostile attitudes of managers and colleagues towards such a person. By the way, Sweden was the first state to adopt special laws to prohibit harassment at work.
Draft Law No.5748 proposes to declare that there are three forms of mobbing:
- Economic pressure expresses itself through unequal payments, groundless depriving of extra benefits (bonuses, awards, etc.). In other words, such an employee undergoes financial extortion.
- Psychological pressure means the creation of a hostile, offensive atmosphere, threats, ridiculing, slanders, and unequal distribution of loads and tasks among employees.
- A tense, hostile, offensive atmosphere includes isolation of the victim from the rest of the team, including the change of his/her working place, not inviting this employee to meetings he (or she) used to participate in, forcing the victim to work in premises unsuitable for such purposes, etc.
In my opinion, the 2nd and the 3rd forms describe an open confrontation, dangerous and unpredictable for the conflicting parties.
The text of Draft Law No.5748 distinguishes the following typical signs of mobbing:
- repeatability of the act;
- distinct parties – an offender, a sufferer (a victim of the mobbing (persecution), observers (if applicable);
- acts or omissions of an offender also cause moral harm, humiliation, fear, anxiety, submission of the victim to the offender’s interests and/or social isolation of the sufferer, forcing them to change their work.
Another novelty of the Draft Law No.5748 is the employer’s liability to ensure an employee’s security and protection of his/her physical and mental health. According to the document’s authors, this may come true by preventing risks and tension at work. However, the form of such prevention is still unclear. Moreover, the employer must carry out informational, educational, and organizational events. However, their practices and the range of involved experts are also unclear. The employer shall also develop a procedure to provide psychological aid and support to the victims of mobbing. However, there are no exact details on how it should take place. Logically, HR professionals of the respective qualification should be involved thereto.
The analysis of the Draft Law No.5748 version before the first consideration shows a lot of unspecified nuances. Interesting that the document mostly protects the rights of ordinary employees, while sometimes mobbing may be focused on a manager. Such a situation becomes the most visible in the state service sector. Actually, mobbing focuses more often on female managers compared to male ones. Mobbing victims are frequently young specialists who have just started their job or vice versa, pre-pension age employees. We all hope that the legislator will consider the problems of ageism and gender to prepare respective corrections to the second reading, with more detailed clarifications of the document’s provisions.
In the next stage, there should be a draft law devoted to punishments for mobbing at work, while Draft Law No.5748 says nothing about any penalty. One also should consider the existing cases of mobbing-associated suicides, putting aside mental tension, neuroses, or depression. This phenomenon is solemn and dangerous. I think the legislator should accurately weigh the severity of penalties for mobbing.
To summarize, mobbing is a shameful phenomenon and a challenging question for society. I hope, Draft Law No.5748 will get refined and passed within the second reading. The Labour Law of Ukraine must guarantee an employee’s legal protection against persecution and ensure each person’s decent working conditions. Transparency, sincerity, respect, and honesty in human relations are keys to a healthy work atmosphere.
- Association Agreement between Ukraine on the one hand and the European Union, European Atomic Energy Community on the other hand (Digital resource) // official website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Access https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/984_011
- Draft Law on Alterations to some Laws of Ukraine on Combatting Law Infringements in the Sphere of Labour (Digital Resource) //official website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Access http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=72469
- Heinz Leymann (Digital resource) // Wikipedia in English. – Access https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Leymann