A recent ACAS report suggests that bullying in the workplace is more prevalent. Bullying itself is not an employment law claim that an employee can bring. However, allegations of bullying can ultimately lead to claims such as constructive unfair dismissal claims and, in circumstances where the employee concerned is able to rely on a protected characteristic, potentially discrimination claims.

Employers would therefore be well advised to put in place an anti-bullying and harassment policy condoning such behaviour but also to take other steps to facilitate a bullying free environment, including implementing equality and anti-bullying harassment training and taking appropriate action if and when any incidents of unacceptable behaviour arise.

However, it is important to remember too that employers do have the right to address legitimate concerns about an employee’s conduct or performance. Whilst such action in this regard sometimes gets wrongly cited as “bullying”, where employers need to convey legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism to an employee provided they do so in accordance with company policies and procedures they should proceed to do so without concern that such action in itself could amount to bullying.