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Bullying of young female employees is rife in the workplace

More than one third of young female employees suffer from bullying at work, which results in a tenth being forced to take up to 100 days off work.

According to trade union Unison and Company Magazine, 66% of the affected young women claim the bullying is ongoing and comes from an older woman in a more senior position.

The abuse includes excessive work monitoring and criticism, exclusion, insulting remarks, setting unrealistic targets and withholding information to get the job done. Because of such behaviour, almost three quarters (74%) have endured physical and mental health illness.

Eight out of 10 respondents are demanding legislation to classify bullying as serious harassment.

Dave Prentice, general secretary of Unison, said: "The recession has added to this problem, and the cost to employers, to cover absence and replace trained staff, makes it clear tackling bullying makes economic sense."

Unison and Company Magazine have, in response to the report, launched the Bully Busters campaign to tackle the issue. The campaign will lobby the Government to revise the Dignity in the Workplace bill to include an anti-bullying policy.

More than 70% of respondents knew their employer had a bullying policy but 65% say it is not actively enforced. If action is to be taken, almost a quarter (23%) are concerned the situation could get worse, a further 23% worry they would be seen as a troublemaker, 20% think it will harm their reputation and 18% would be lacking in confidence to do anything at all.