East Riding Council bullying investigation: Worker says she was not allowed compassionate leave to be with dying mother

An East Riding Council employee told to use a holiday day to visit her dying mother has said she was bullied so much she had to go off work sick.

The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that their manager did not even say they were sorry her mother was dying when she told them she needed time off.

The staff member added that she and others were branded troublemakers for standing up to managers who made them clock in and out when leaving desks while they did not.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

An East Riding Council spokesperson said all allegations of bullying were treated with the seriousness they deserved and called on anyone affected to report it.

East Riding Council headquarters in Beverley

The claims come after a draft Local Government Association (LGA) report stated bullying at the hands of senior officers had been witnessed during a visit last year.

The peer challenge report claimed visitors witnessed unusually controlling behaviour, with political power tilted towards unelected senior offices.

The staff member, who began working for the council in 2006, told LDRS the bullying they endured made them so ill they had to go off sick and lost their confidence.

They added bullying was rife in the council and came from the top levels of senior management.

The worker said: “I would say the bullying started around 10 years ago.

“I’ve had many managers, all with different styles, some were really easygoing but others were much stricter and wanted to know everything we were up to.

Read More

Read More
'Bullying' behaviour witnessed by 'peer challenge' team during visit to East Rid...

“The bullying began for me when one particularly manager got promoted up, at first I didn’t realise it was happening to me. I’m quite forthright as a person which I think was my downfall.

“We used to say that if you play the game then you’re fine, but about three or four of us stood our ground so we were seen as troublemakers.

“There was another colleague who started making things up about us and instead of asking for evidence the manager just believed them.

“The nature of the bullying’s difficult to explain, it was very subtle, not the classic sort of being called names and things like that.

“But it went right to the top, up into upper management, and it seemed like those with responsibility were either looking after each other or were in denial about it.

“It was more like if you did something one of them didn’t like they wouldn’t speak to you or look at you in the corridor.

“They were clever about how they did it, officially everything was done properly and they followed the policies, but there was a feeling of if we didn’t do as they said we all knew what would happen.

“The bullying was different in other departments, I know some of the refuse workers were treated very badly by some managers and it wasn’t subtle at all, they treated them like crap.

“I confronted one of the more senior managers once because they’d blatantly lied about something.

“They were so angry with me that they didn’t speak to me for years afterwards. The culture’s come from the top and more and more it’s come down the management chain.

“For instance with the manager I worked directly under, if they asked a question and I gave them an answer they didn’t like they’d become really aggressive, just because I answered them.

“You’re always to blame if something goes wrong, it’s always your fault.

“Also if one person did something the manager didn’t like then during our team meetings we’d all get told off for it, it was like we all had to suffer.

“This particular manager started making us clock in and out every time we got up from our desks, we had to do that but no one else at the council did as far as I know.

“But they were going out for a smoke practically every hour and they didn’t have to clock out.

“So someone confronted her and asked why she didn’t have to do it like us and she got really angry and shouted: ‘don’t speak to me like that.’

“That kind of behaviour from management was across the board from what I could gather.

“Our team was quite a large group, but out of about 25 people I started with all but one left because of how bad that particular manager was.

“Another thing I remember was when my mum was sick and dying I had to ring this particular manager to say I couldn’t come in.

“They responded by just asking if I was going to take it as unpaid or annual leave. There was nothing from them at all, they didn’t even say they were sorry to hear about it.

“They had no empathy, I felt like I was in the wrong for speaking up about it.

“I emailed to complain about it all and was told something would be done about it, eventually we got a new manager.

“I honestly believe the manager I had before was pushed out and and they were sent to another department.

“I’m still on sick leave after it all, it finished me, I lost all my confidence.

“Now I’m just glad that I don’t have to worry about going in.

“I and others were relieved when we heard about the report on the council, we realised that it hadn’t been in our heads.

“But I really don’t know if anything will change because of it, I don’t think it will.”

The council’s spokesperson said: “We would like to reassure all staff that all allegations of bullying are taken extremely seriously in this organisation and that we investigate all matters brought to our attention with the seriousness they deserve.

“We review our related policies on a regular basis to ensure that they meet the needs of our staff, and also take external advice on them, to ensure that we are acting in line with best practice in the field and in the sector.

“We encourage any staff members who feel they are a victim of bullying, or a witness to bullying, to report it via their line manager or by other routes such as through the union, occupational health or people services.

“There are policies on our staff intranet which explain how to report harassment and bullying if anyone is unsure of how to do this.”