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How to make an Anti-harassment and bullying policy

Create an anti-harassment and bullying policy to set out your business’ approach towards workplace bullying and harassment.

Recently reviewed by Geraldine Rockall, Lawyer. 

This anti-harassment and bullying policy was last reviewed on 12 December 2022.

An anti-harassment and bullying policy is a document that states what measures a business takes to eliminate and prevent harassment and bullying in the workplace. 

Ensure that your staff are treated and treat others with dignity and respect and show a commitment to fostering a workplace free of harassment and bullying with a clear and fair anti-harassment and bullying policy.

Use this anti-harassment and bullying policy:

  • to set out your approach towards harassment and bullying in the workplace

  • to inform staff about what harassment and bullying is

  • to set out the consequences for harassing and/or bullying other

  • only for staff based in England, Wales or Scotland

This anti-harassment and bullying policy covers:

  • aims of the policy

  • who is covered by the policy

  • what harassment and bullying are

  • what to do if someone is being harassed and/or bullied

  • sanctions for breach of this policy

  • data protection

Having in place and displaying an anti-harassment and bullying policy shows commitment to preventing harassment and bullying within a workplace. As employers can be liable for the actions of an employee where there is a case of bullying and/or harassment in the course of employment, having an anti-harassment and bullying policy shows that employers took all ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent such behaviour.

Bullying is unwanted behaviour or behaviour that makes someone feel uncomfortable (eg frightened, upset or mocked), be it physical, verbal or non-verbal. Examples of bullying include:

  • inappropriate and/or derogatory remarks about a person’s performance

  • overbearing and intimidating levels of supervision

  • excluding someone from workplace events and/or social functions

For more information, read Workplace harassment and bullying.

Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. It is any bullying or other unwanted behaviour (eg sexual advances) related to at least one of the following ‘protected characteristics’: sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief and age. 

To amount to harassment, the unwanted behaviour or bullying must, whether it was intended to or not:

  • violate the person's dignity, or

  • create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person

For more information, read Workplace harassment and bullying.

This anti-harassment and bullying policy allows you to specify how complaints about harassment and/or bullying should be raised. As a first step, any complaints may be raised directly with the person responsible, if possible. If this is not possible, or does not achieve anything, a complaint should be raised informally with the relevant line manager or the HR department. 

If the harassment and/or bullying continues, the formal request is not dealt with and/or the staff member making the complaint wishes to have the matter handled formally, the formal complaints process should be followed. This formal process can either be set out in the anti-harassment and bullying policy itself or in accordance with a Grievance procedure (if the employer has one). For more information, read Workplace harassment and bullying.

Following an investigation, if a member of staff is found to have bullied or harassed the complainant (ie the person who complained about the other’s behaviour), this should be dealt with under your Disciplinary procedure as a case of possible misconduct or gross misconduct.

If a third party (eg a customer or visitor) is found to have bullied or harassed the complainant, you should consider what action will be appropriate to deal with the situation.

While employers are not obliged to offer an appeals process, they can be penalised for failing to do so in certain circumstances if the case ends up going to an Employment Tribunal. The appeals process should either be set out in this anti-harassment and bullying policy or in your Grievance procedure.

For more information on employee appeals, read Appealing decisions made by employers.

If staff don’t comply with the anti-harassment and bullying policy, they may be subject to disciplinary action. In certain circumstances, noncompliance with the policy may lead to the dismissal of that person. This applies to all staff, including those who hold senior positions.

An employer will be jointly responsible for any acts of harassment or bullying carried out by staff unless they can show that they have done everything they could to prevent it.

For more information, read Workplace harassment and bullying.

In addition to a Grievance procedure (setting out the steps that should be taken in order to address grievances) and Disciplinary procedure (outlining the steps that will be taken to deal with disciplinary issues at work), you should consider having the following policies in place to supplement this anti-harassment and bullying policy:

  • a Data protection and data security policy - this document sets out the policies and procedures a business will comply with when dealing with staff personal information and personal data. It is essential when you are processing (eg storing and recording) staff personal data.

  • an Employee privacy notice - this document details how employers collect, use, retain and disclose staff personal information. Having this document in place allows employers to be transparent and open about the information they collect from staff.

Ask a lawyer if:

  • this policy doesn’t meet your needs

  • you have employees based outside England, Wales or Scotland

This anti-harassment and bullying policy complies with the laws of England, Wales and Scotland.

Other names for Anti-harassment and bullying policy

Harassment and bullying policy, Bullying and harassment policy, Anti-harassment policy, Anti-bullying policy.