Bullying At Work: What Counts And How To Take Action

Bullying at work

Bullying in the workplace is classified as behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended, and harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.  Despite this being the case, bullying and harassment is still rife in workplaces across the UK and, indeed, around the world. So what counts as workplace bullying? It’s difficult to define certain behaviours and experiences as bullying, but after a little research and some help from the government’s website, we’re here to enlighten you.

  • Unfair treatment
  • Denial of training or promotion opportunities
  • Picking on someone
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Racist or homophobic comments or jokes

It’s important to note that bullying itself is not against the law. However www.gov.uk states that harassment is and this counts as such if these behaviours are related to one of the following:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sexual orientation


What can you do about it?

See if you can sort it out informally first

You might be surprised by how far you can get by simply having a conversation. Your colleague may be unaware that their behaviour is causing offence, so it’s always good to reach out directly in the first instance.

Record everything

If you think you’re suffering from bullying in the workplace, it’s imperative that you take the necessary steps to put a stop to it. Keep a record of all the incidents you have encountered, even if it’s something which may be perceived as a ‘small’ thing. Important notes to take include:

  • The date, time and location of each incident
  • Exactly what was said
  • Exactly what was done
  • The names of any witnesses
  • Any similar incidents you’ve noticed that have been directed towards others
  • How the incident impacted on your work and general well-being that day

Speak to someone else internally

Your manager is a good place to start. If your manager is the one causing you the problems, then choose the next most appropriate person. This may be your manager’s manager or even your manager’s equal in a different department. Equally, many HR departments are well-equipped to deal with these kinds of issues.

Making a formal complaint

Most businesses have formal complaints procedures in place, however, there are no guarantees that this will make a difference in the long-term. In extreme cases it may be necessary to take legal action at an employment tribunal.

If you’re suffering from bullying at work, know your rights and do everything you feel necessary to either put a stop to or get the justice you deserve. You should never stay anywhere if you’re feeling extremely unhappy. You can always start searching for a new job in the meantime. It’s unlikely that you’ll go from one workplace bully to another, so take a chance and make that leap. You’ve got nothing to lose.

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