Frequently asked questions

The clear difference between harassment and bullying is harassment is ILLEGAL and bullying IS NOT. However, bullying is never acceptable and anyone bullying should be punished appropriately.

Harassment is aggressive pressure or intimidation which can make you feel intimidated. E.g. comments, jokes, gestures. Section 1 & 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 act defines acts of harassment.

Bullying has no legal definition but can be defined as very similar to harassment, it is not targeting a protected characteristic.

Harassment targets the 9 protected characteristics in the Equality Act. These characteristics are:

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

Whilst there is no legal definition of bullying there is still some Law and guidance that business settings must regard. Most bullying incidents are not crimes. But some types of bullying are illegal and should be reported to the police. This includes bullying that involves violence or assault; theft; harassment and intimidation over a period of time including calling someone names or threatening them, making abusive phone calls, and sending abusive emails or text messages (one incident is not normally enough to get a conviction); and anything involving hate crimes.

Here are some of the signs to look out for if you think you or someone else is being bullied/harassed:

  • Taking responsibilities away from you
  • Exclusion or being ignored
  • Rumours spreading with or without your knowledge
  • Constant criticism
  • Managers/leaders that misuse their power and intimidate or belittle
  • Being made to feel guilty, constant jokes, and being picked on
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Threats of job security
  • Stopping you from progressing in your job

A positive working environment can come from a number of things. Here are some examples below:

  • Transparent communication between everyone
  • Ensure you and your employees have a good work-life balance to avoid things like stress and general frustration and unhappiness at work
  • Keep up-to-date training and development opportunities going to provide new and exciting opportunities for staff
  • Praise and reward hard work and success
  • Things like team bonding days and showing a good team attitude is important to make everyone feel included and equal

Documents & other resources


Respectful Workplace - Checklist

This simple checklist is the perfect prompt to assess the level of respectful behaviour in your workplace. It will quickly highlight what’s working well and what needs improving.


Handling Discipline & Grievances - An Overview

This document provides two easy-to-follow flow charts for handling both a Disciplinary Procedure and a Grievance Procedure.


Grievance Procedure

This one-page document provides a concise yet thorough explanation on how to conduct a three-stage Grievance Procedure, and what to expect from the process.


Employees - If You Have a Grievance

This document is perfect as a quick point of reference. It provides a simple overview of the six stages involved in undertaking a Grievance Process.


Bullying Disciplinary Procedure

This document covers the three-stage Disciplinary Procedure, including the potential outcomes from the process. One page, lots of detail, and very easy to follow.


Bullying and Harassment Risk Assessment

This document covers the eight major factors to review when conducting a Bullying and Harassment Risk Assessment in the workplace.