Know your rights: Bullying at work

I think I’m being bullied by my boss at work. What exactly is bullying and what protections do I have?

Bullying is defined as repeated inappropriate behaviour direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could be reasonably regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work.

Bullying can take many different forms such as:

  • Social exclusion and isolation
  • Verbal abuse and insults
  • Being treated less favourably than colleagues in similar roles
  • Belittling a person’s opinion
  • Spreading malicious rumours, gossip or innuendo
  • Intrusion – pestering, spying or stalking
  • Intimidation and aggressive interactions
  • Excessive monitoring of work
  • Withholding information needed for the person to perform their job properly
  • Repeatedly manipulating a person’s job contents and targets
  • Blaming a person for things beyond their control
  • Use of aggressive or obscene language
  • Other menacing behaviour

Your employer has a duty of care for all their employees to prevent bullying. They also have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2005 (as amended) for the welfare of employees.

A new Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Prevention and Resolution of Bullying at Work came into effect on 23 December 2020. Under the Code your employer must:

  • Take reasonable steps to prevent bullying in the workplace
  • Have an anti-bullying policy for dealing with complaints of bullying
  • Develop the anti-bullying policy in consultation with employees
  • Prepare a Safety Statement based on an assessment of the risk of bullying

A summary of your employer’s anti-bullying policy should be displayed within your workplace.

The new code sets out a detailed procedure for dealing with informal and formal complaints. You can read more about how to make a complaint on

During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit to request a phone call from an information officer

You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on