Could HR solve...? Fawlty Towers

22 Feb 2018 By Eleanor Whitehouse

A volatile manager physically and verbally abuses his long-suffering workforce

The problem

As a workplace characterised by a physically and verbally abusive manager, as well as very few health and safety procedures, it’s a wonder Fawlty Towers has any staff at all. Waiter Manuel – who’s from Barcelona – is usually on the receiving end, having been knocked out with a frying pan, and turned upside down and shaken, among other incidents. 

The solution

As an employer, Basil Fawlty needs to acknowledge his duty of care to his employees, which includes protection from bullying and harassment at work, says Kate Appleyard, owner of apple hr support.

“If Manuel thinks he’s being bullied, the first thing he should do is talk to someone and get advice,” she says. “As his manager is the perpetrator in this instance, having a quiet word with Basil’s wife (and hotel co-owner) Sybil might be better.”

Someone also needs to call Basil out on his bullying tendencies and how they are affecting his staff, says Appleyard: “If Manuel isn’t comfortable doing this, he can ask another senior employee, or even a trade union representative, to do so on his behalf.”

Manuel and his colleagues could also have grounds to bring an employment tribunal claim, she points out: “He could take his poor treatment further if he wanted to. I suggest that he keeps a diary to log incidents so he can provide details of specific examples at a later date, if requested. He 
should read the company’s grievance policy for guidance or, if there isn’t one (which is highly likely), he can refer to statutory grievance procedures.

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