Bullying and harassment

Fiona Cuming

Editor's message: Bullying and harassment remains a problem in the workplace despite ever-increasing media attention. Organisations should aim to promote a workplace culture where bullying and harassment are unacceptable.

There is an implied term in every contract of employment that an employer will provide a working environment that is reasonably suitable for the employee to perform their contractual duties. Bullying and harassment can create a hostile working environment, which may breach this implied term as well as the implied term of trust and confidence between the employer and employee.

Unlike bullying, harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 if the harassing behaviour is related to the protected characteristic of sex, gender reassignment, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion or belief.

Bullying and harassment in the workplace can erode an employee’s confidence, self-esteem, health and wellbeing. Bullying and harassment can also have a major impact on an organisation, affecting both the performance and the morale of the workforce.

If your organisation does not enforce procedures to identify and deal with bullying and harassment it is unlikely that your workforce will perform to its potential. Your organisation also may have problems with retention, as well as an exposure to legal claims.

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to bullying and harassment.