Bullying and harassment

In a workplace context, “harassment” is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (other than marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity) that has the purpose of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. Harassment in the workplace can also occur where a person reasonably considers conduct to have that effect, even if the effect is unintended.

“Bullying” is not defined in UK employment law. Acas defines workplace bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied”. The Health and Safety Executive stresses that bullying is a pattern of behaviour rather than isolated instances, and states that it “involves negative behaviour being targeted at an individual, or individuals, repeatedly and persistently over time”.


Alex Salmond sexual harassment investigation ruled unlawful

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has won his legal challenge against the way the Scottish government handled an investigation...

Are UK employers lagging behind Europe in response to #MeToo?

20 Dec 2018

Only two-thirds of UK employers have taken action to prevent sexual harassment – a proportion that is significantly below the...

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Sexual harassment to be tackled under new 12-point plan

18 Dec 2018

The government is considering whether to introduce a new legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment at work as...

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Debt and divorce among employees’ top mental health worries

17 Dec 2018

Money worries, relationship break up and bullying are the personal issues of most concern to employers when it comes to...

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University of London protest

Largest university in UK hit by boycott over outsourced staff

10 Dec 2018

Academics, students and leading politicians have launched a boycott of the University of London in support of outsourced workers

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Ted Baker boss accused of “forced hugging” and leading culture of harassment

3 Dec 2018

Hundreds of former or current staff at Ted Baker have signed a petition demanding an end to “forced hugging” by...

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Staff bullied at investigated NHS Trust

29 Nov 2018

Staff at a Shropshire hospital trust being investigated over a high number of baby deaths have reported a culture of...

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Civil servants make hundreds of complaints about harassment

13 Nov 2018

Hundreds of civil servants have complained about sexual harassment or bullying but only a small number have faced disciplinary action...

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Google responds to walkout by ending ‘forced arbitration’

9 Nov 2018

Google has announced it is to end its controversial “forced arbitration” policy under which employees in the US must agree...

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Woman who was spied on by employer wins race discrimination case

5 Nov 2018

A woman who was spied on by her employer and denied the opportunity to progress in her career because she...

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Google workers stage global walkout

1 Nov 2018

Staff and freelancers at Google offices across the world are walking out in protest of the tech giant’s treatment of...

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Ryanair racism row: Are employers liable if they fail to prevent harassment?

31 Oct 2018

A recent incident on a Ryanair flight where a man was filmed having a racist rant at another passenger attracted...

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Google dismisses 48 staff over sexual harassment

26 Oct 2018

Google has dismissed 48 people – including 13 senior managers – over claims of sexual harassment in the past two...

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Sir Philip Green named as businessman in sexual and racial harassment scandal

25 Oct 2018

Billionaire named as the man at the centre of the "British #MeToo" scandal...

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Government to examine use of NDAs in employment disputes

25 Oct 2018

Theresa May has said the government will bring forward a planned consultation on the use of non-disclosure agreements in employment...

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