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The Equality Act 2010 defines it as, “unwanted conduct related to a relevant characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.”
This guide explains how businesses can avoid it to promote a positive working environment.
Harassment and bullying aren’t quite the same thing, though harassment can include bullying behaviour.
Unlike bullying, harassment is against the law. It refers to bad treatment related to a protected characteristic.
There’s no legal definition for bullying, but it’s seen as behaviour that’s malicious, intimidating, offensive, insulting, and causes emotional or physical harm to the recipient.
It’s similar to harassment, without the link to a protected characteristic.
Even though bullying isn’t illegal, this doesn’t mean it’s acceptable at work.
This article looks at some bullying and harassment at work examples and offers advice on how to prevent it from happening in your business.
Types of workplace harassment include, but are not limited to:
The term ‘sexual harassment’ refers to when a perpetrator acts in a sexual or romantic way towards an individual who does not want this attention.
Behaviour is also classed as sexual harassment if it involves making a threat (such as job loss) or promise (e.g. a promotion) based on the victim carrying out a request.
Other examples of sexual harassment include:
This type of harassment also falls under ‘workplace violence’. It’s when physical attacks or threats take place within a workspace. Instances include:
Harassment of this nature negatively impacts the victim’s wellbeing. This can spiral into further problems and harm their physical health, social life and work ethic.
Here are some examples of psychological harassment:
Not all harassment comes from within the workplace. Perpetrators can be customers, suppliers or clients. When this happens, we call it third-party harassment.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to stop all types of bullying behaviour, regardless of who it comes from.
If one of your employees is being treated unfairly by a third-party individual, you have a duty of care to your staff member and must take appropriate steps to end the harassment.
Bullying at work can take many forms, such as:
As well as causing distress to your workforce, bullying and harassment can lead to problems like absenteeism, high staff turnover and a decrease in productivity.
But what can you do to prevent it from happening?
Putting together a behaviour policy will help stop these problems. Your policy should include:
It’s also important to set a good example to your employees. Regardless of any policy, if staff see management treating others in a negative way, they’re more likely to follow suit.
You should also make sure your employees find you approachable and encourage them to be open if they do encounter any problems. The signs of bullying might slip past you if you’re busy—if your staff feel they can’t talk to you, you won’t be any the wiser.
The effects of harassment and bullying can be detrimental to an employee’s wellbeing. Having an EAP in place means your team always has help at hand when they need emotional support. For more information, call us today on 0844 892 2493.
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