Bullied at work in the UK

Recently I asked people who are currently being bullied to send me their stories to share with others.  Here’s one from TWITTER representing the UK:

Anonymous: “I’m still with the same employer, its been an an absolute nightmare.  It started with a newly appointed manager; being particularly nasty, abusive voice mails on my personal phone which escalated to not being invited to meetings, disability discrimination both direct and third party.  I’m partially deaf and was refused safety equipment that the same manager provided for another member of the workforce, being told I would gain no further promotion owing to my disability, being accused of lying about attending the hospital when our son, who is autistic, was rushed into hospital. So, I took that through the grievance procedure and the manager was moved to a more prestigious job with more responsibility and even perks. His PA developed stress and eventually resigned at his new place of work owing to his behavior and treatment towards her…I’ve been with the company for 15 years, and worked hard to get to where I was. 


The Vancouver Sun reported that a Canadian study found workplace harassment is more harmful than sexual harassment “because of a lack of recourse for victims.”  So, I asked Anonymous for his perspective on what to do.  All of us face different situations and repercussions and should seek counseling that can be tailored to our own circumstances.  But, it is critical to be aware of the experiences of others even if what works for them may not be advisable for you to try in your case. 

Anonymous says he is a trade union rep, equality rep and harassment advisor and that “in the UK it is critical to get a resolve quickly, and if not, submit a tribunal request early to avoid timing out issues which companies like mine are professionals at dragging out.  Meaning that cases do not get heard to the detriment of the victim.  A lesson I learned at my own expense.”

1. Join a Trade Union if its available, very important as if you do need to take your company through the Tribunal route, then your Union fees normally incorporate your legal costs, If you are not a member of a Trade Union taking this route can be costly. Most Unions will not represent you if you are not a member or if you subscribe after an event has taken place, pretty much the same as an insurance company will not backdate cover after an event has taken place. Most Unions train workplace colleagues to become workplace representatives, intervention by a good Trade Union Representative can nip the problem in the bud, as sometimes (not in all cases) a quiet word about the consequences of bullying a member of the workforce, can work wonders.

2.Do NOT suffer in silence or ignore the problem, thinking the bullying will stop if you ignore it, nobody has the right to carry on this way to demean a person in the workplace, or treat them in a detrimental manor, most bullies in my experience see how far they can push their victim, and even when bullies move to a different location if they have not been pulled to book over their actions, they continue to bully others and make their lives a misery.

3.Keep a diary of events or create a time line detailing the events.

4.Read your companies bullying, harassment and grievance policies, and in the case of raising a grievance, specifically state what part of the companies policy, you are quoting when raising your grievance.

5.Human Resources will use phrases like “clash of personalities”, “poor management style” or “coercive managemnent”, make no mistake, these are just other words for Bullying.

6. You are not a troublemaker for raising a concern.

7. You don’t have to be the victim to raise a grievance against a bully or make people aware, if you notice someone bullying someone else in the workplace, inform higher management or a Union Representative.

8. Do not let Human Resources drag out the grievance procedure, this does happen a lot, and this can hinder your claim if you do go down the route of going to Industrial Tribunal.

9. Use websites that specialize in anti-bullying campaigns, and do research, the Andrea Adams Trust is an excellent website for information, sadly they are no longer a charity with a helpline, but there are plenty of others who provide this facility.

10. In the UK, the form required to raise an Industrial Tribunal is currently called an ET1, it can be downloaded or picked up from the local job centre.

11. With the case of a Tribunal this can take a long time for your case to be heard by a tribunal judge, but your complaint MUST be filed within the strict time constraints of the Tribunals service. Normally within 3 months, and in this period may be extended with good reason in some cases.

12. Some cases may be settled before going to Tribunal, and not all cases involve money, clearly state during your grievance what will solve the problem.

13. Seriously try not to lose your sense of humor, some of the tricks that companies play to avoid dealing with the problem at root cause, will astound you and drive you to the point of despair, its easy to say to laugh it off, but some avoidance techniques by companies, are laughable at best.

14. You can seek an Industrial Injury claim for Stress or depression, but it is a hard case to prove, unless you have concrete evidence that the stress/depression has been triggered by bullying or pressures at work, and again this can take to seem like forever to be resolved.

15. Do not allow yourself to be unfairly pressured, or make rash decisions, in most cases there is light at the end of the tunnel, if you love the job you do, why should a bully pressure you to leave.

16. Do not become aggressive or strike out.  Most bullying is psychological andby striking out against a bully, will almost certainly see you jobless, and the bully wins, do not give them the satisfaction. Through personal experience, I have had this occur to me, and it is not pleasant, but by not rising to the bait as it were you take some of the power away from the bully.

17. Do not blame yourself for becoming the victim of a bully, most bullies pick on people they either see as a threat or as a soft target, it is the bully who is the person who has the personality issues, not the victim of a bully.

18.in the UK there are Laws that cover and protect against specific forms of bullying. If the bully is using, Race, disability, age, gender, sexual preference as a catalyst for their bullying this is discrimination and there are acts of Parliament to protect you against these acts of discrimination.

19. There are regulations in place to protect you against other acts of bullying, these can be found at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/ResolvingWorkplaceDisputes/index.htm

20. Most important DO NOT LET THE BULLY WIN, everybody has the right to go to and from work with peace of mind.  If you are unlucky enough to be the victim of a bully, do not take it as personal, the problem is not with you, it is with the bully…

If you’re not sure if you’re being bullied, if you are a bully, or need information form an HR perspective, check out the Acas website — Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service — for their free training modules that anyone can register for and access online.

4 thoughts on “Bullied at work in the UK

  1. Pingback: Bullied at work in the UK « THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW

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  3. Pingback: Bullied at work in the UK | Γονείς σε Δράση

  4. I was bullied about 8 years ago, it ruined my health.
    I need to take action against the woman who caused my downfall (I’m on part time work because of it) but she has left the Council. I had very little to zero union (Unison) support at the time, I’m still with the Council and have better union support these days, but I want… well I guess you’d call it revenge!

    any help would be appreciated


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