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”.


armed forces harassment

MoD vows to tackle harassment and bullying in the armed forces

New measures to stamp out the discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in some areas of the armed forces have been...

How employees are using social activism to make their voices heard

16 Jul 2019

With traditional union membership in decline, employees are finding new ways to voice their opposition to corporate decisions, as shown...

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bullying in parliament

‘HR department’ needed to tackle bullying in Parliament

12 Jul 2019

The House of Commons is in need of an HR department to help stamp out the bullying and harassment that many MPs’ staff experience.

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Consultation includes protections from third-party sexual harassment

11 Jul 2019

The government has published its consultation on plans to strengthen protections against sexual harassment at work, including harassment from third...

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Christian doctor sacked for not using preferred pronouns

10 Jul 2019

A doctor has claimed he was dismissed because his Christian beliefs prohibited him from addressing transgender benefit claimants by their...

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employers'-duty-prevent-sexual-harassment

Introduce sexual harassment duties on employers, campaign urges

26 Jun 2019

Unions, women’s rights organisations and charities have increased pressure on the government to make employers responsible for protecting their staff...

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nhs staff sexual harassment

Eight per cent of NHS staff sexually harassed in past year

20 Jun 2019

Only a fifth of NHS staff say their employer has implemented a sexual harassment policy, indicating that workers believe it...

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sexual harassment whistleblowing

Whistleblowing v grievance: how should sexual harassment be raised?

19 Jun 2019

Following high-profile allegations of sexual harassment by staff, employees are now more empowered to speak up about inappropriate behaviour than...

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Lloyd's of London

Lloyd’s of London sexual harassment cases multiply

14 Jun 2019

Further evidence of a culture of lewd behaviour at Lloyd's of London emerged this week after an executive was suspended after sending a sexually suggestive email about a female colleague.

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non-disclosure agreements

Prevent use of NDAs for discrimination and harassment cover-ups, say MPs

11 Jun 2019

Non-disclosure agreements should not be used to prevent employees from discussing allegations of discrimination and harassment with other staff, while...

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US study finds men fearing contact with women at work

10 Jun 2019

Male managers may be restricting their work with female colleagues, according to US research.

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judges are workers case surpreme court

Supreme Court to hear ‘judges are workers’ case

4 Jun 2019

A judge who is seeking a clarification in the law to recognise judges as workers will make her case at...

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‘Black and white minstrel’ worker wins racial harassment appeal

31 May 2019

An employee who dressed as a “black and white minstrel” at a work Christmas party and sung a “racist” song...

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Culture shift needed to tackle discrimination against visibly-different staff

23 May 2019

A significant culture shift, driven by leadership teams, is needed to tackle...

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Bullying in the workplace:setting unrealistic targets

23 May 2019

Bullying in the workplace does not need to be aggressive or overt to cause real distress to employees, and sticky legal situations for employers. Setting unrealistic targets can also be interpreted as bullying, warns Kate Hilpern.

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