A new Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work written by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has been in place since December 2020 (S.I. 674 of 2020, Industrial Relations Act 1990).
The role of the Contact Person, Support Contact Person or the Designated Contact Person is an integral part of the Dignity at Work process. The function of the Contact Person is to listen, be supportive and outline the options open to an employee who believes they may be experiencing bullying behaviour by somebody they are coming in contact with in their workplace or through their work. The Contact Person acts as a first point of contact, somebody to speak with in confidence about what might be happening with a view to considering what the next actions might be. The Contact Person will explain the definitions of bullying behaviour and the various elements of the procedure and will assist the employee in making an informed choice about what action, if any the employee may wish to take.
The aim of this workshop is to consider this specific role and help build the confidence of those who have volunteered to undertake it on behalf of their organisation.
In accordance with the code of practice the Contact Person does not act as an advocate or representative for the employee and may not approach the alleged perpetrator on his or her behalf.
They will have no role in the investigation of any complaints and should not be tasked with any further involvement in the details or right and wrongs of a complaint. Understanding the boundaries of the role is an essential part of this role – resolution of the issue is not the role of the Contact Person.