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Anti-Bullying Week: stamping out bullying at schools and work

The main aim of Anti-Bullying Week this year, running from 17 to 21 November, is to stop the bullying of all children and young people, including those with disabilities or special educational needs.

These children are 'significantly more likely' than their peers to experience bullying in schools and the wider community.

Bullying and employment outcomes

The negative effects of bullying don't end in the playground. Research has found that bullying can have long-lasting consequences on employment outcomes, with victims more likely to earn less or be unemployed.

Bullying can also devastate a person's confidence, which is often considered to be central to professional development.

Although the focus of Anti-Bullying Week is on the young, it's important to remember the potential repercussions bullying can have in later life - and, indeed, that bullying can also be a problem in the workplace.

So it's a good opportunity for employers to think about their own anti-bullying policies, and how they treat workers and candidates with disabilities.

Employers' duty of care

Employers have a 'duty of care' for their employees, as well as a moral responsibility and strong business case for maintaining bully-free organisations.

They can help draw the line by setting down examples of unacceptable behaviour. This might include ridicule, public humiliation, unfair treatment, victimisation, exclusion, spreading malicious rumours, personal insults, setting someone up for failure, making threats, constant criticism, and blocking promotion and training opportunities.

Problems can remain hidden if employees don't have confidence in an organisation's discipline and grievance procedures. Victims may fear retribution if they make a complaint, and colleagues are sometimes slow to come forward as witnesses in case the bully rounds on them too.

It's up to employers to provide the protection of an open and supportive workplace environment in which employees know what to do and who to turn to if problems arise. They should deal with employees' concerns in confidence, promptly, fairly and sensitively - and make clear that bullying in all its forms will not be tolerated.

Acas publications and services

Acas has detailed advice and guidance on how to deal with Bullying and harassment in the workplace, including the pdf icon Advice leaflet - Bullying and harassment at work: a guide for managers and employers [173kb].

Acas experts can visit your organisation, help you develop a policy on bullying and harassment, and make sure that your current equality and diversity policy is legally compliant. See Equality and diversity: how Acas can help for more information.

Practical Acas training is also available on Bullying and harassment, improving Skills for supervisors, managing Absence, Stress in the workplace, and Handling difficult conversations.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.


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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.

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