Bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Examples of bullying or harassing behaviour include:
- spreading malicious rumours
- unfair treatment
- picking on or regularly undermining someone
- denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities
Bullying and harassment can happen:
- by letter
- by email
- by phone
Bullying itself is not against the law, but harassment is. This is when the unwanted behaviour is related to one of the following:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
What employees should do if they’re bullied or harassed
Employees should see if they can sort out the problem informally first. If they cannot, they should talk to their:
- human resources (HR) department
- trade union representative
If this does not work, they can make a formal complaint using their employer’s grievance procedure. If this does not work and they’re still being harassed, they can take legal action at an employment tribunal.
They could also call the Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline for advice:
You can also read Acas guidance on discrimination and bullying.
Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment - they’re liable for any harassment suffered by their employees.
Anti-bullying and harassment policies can help prevent problems. Acas has produced guidance for employers on preventing and handling bullying and harassment.