Below are two examples of bullying and harassment policies adapted from Skills Development Scotland (Example 1) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) (Example 2).

  • Example 1 is a typical policy that addresses bullying and harassment by focusing on defining negative behaviours.
  • Example 2, Dignity at Work Policy, is an example of a policy that aims to identify positive behaviours and the benefits they can bring to organisations and individuals.

These policies are not intended to be prescriptive. Organisations should adapt these policies to take into account their own organisational size, structure and culture.

Example 1: Preventing Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy

Our organisation is committed to treating every member of staff with dignity and respect at work or in the course of their work. It is our policy to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that all employees are able to work in an environment free from bullying and harassment.

There is no single definition of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. What is acceptable behaviour to one member of staff may not be acceptable to another. We should all be aware of the effect that our behaviour or language may have on others.

There are various types of behaviour which are forms of, or could lead to bullying and harassment. They can have a detrimental effect on both individuals and the organisation, significantly lower staff morale and motivation, cause increased absenteeism and turnover of staff and, in some cases, end in legal proceedings.

Although unacceptable behaviour may be repetitive, a single incident may be serious enough to merit immediate disciplinary action. Bullying and harassment do not necessarily occur on a face to face basis. They might also be through written, email, text or telephone communication, social networking sites, comments posted online, downloading offensive materials or graffiti. Behaviour outside the workplace can fall within the scope of the policy.


ACAS describes harassment as “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected 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.

Examples could include:

  • physical or verbal abuse or intimidation
  • jokes, banter, insinuations, insults and taunts based on a person’s nationality, age, sexuality, religion etc.
  • asking intimate questions about a person’s disability.

Harassment does not depend on the intention of the offender, but on the impact of their behaviour on the victim. What one individual may find acceptable may be unacceptable to another.


ACAS describes bullying as: “Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient”. Examples could include:

  • aggression or verbal abuse
  • withholding information from or deliberately excluding an individual
  • making others feel upset, humiliated, threatened or vulnerable
  • excessive or under supervision
  • overruling a person’s authority or undermining skills and capabilities
  • setting impossible objectives

The difference between bullying and legitimate exercise of management authority should be clear. Managers have to be able to manage their staff, for example by:

  • issuing reasonable instructions and expecting them to be carried out
  • setting expected standards of performance supported by the performance management framework
  • giving legitimate, constructive and fair criticism of performance or behaviour at work.

Carrying out these duties in a fair, reasonable and consistent manner does not constitute an act of harassment, victimisation, discrimination or bullying. Managers should ensure that they perform these duties whilst upholding the principles of this policy and respecting the dignity of employees.

The aim of this policy is to stop undesirable and offensive behaviour. Where appropriate, every effort should be made to resolve the situation informally, although it is recognised that some incidents, by their serious nature, will need to be dealt with under the organisation’s formal procedure from the outset. Employees are encouraged to seek to resolve any issues on an informal basis as they arise. Where necessary, formal complaints should be made as soon as possible following the incident(s) and follow the organisation’s complaint process and procedures. All complaints must be taken seriously and dealt with confidentially and promptly. Where formal disciplinary procedures are commenced as a result of an allegation made, information about the allegations, and the evidence supporting them will require to be disclosed to those involved in the process. However any information disclosed must be kept strictly confidential, and must not be discussed outwith that process.

All employees
  • be aware of their own behaviour and its effect on others, ensuring that they remain above reproach at all times
  • consistently demonstrate behaviour which is professional, conducive to team-working and respectful of colleagues and customers
  • support any colleague who feels they have been harassed or bullied and encourage them to seek help from an appropriate source
  • remembering that unless unacceptable behaviour is reported then no action can be taken to deal with it
  • proactively endeavour to ensure that their team works in an environment which is free from harassment, bullying, victimisation and discrimination
  • lead by example through a fair and open management style
  • ensure that all employees for whom they have responsibility are aware of and understand the policy and procedures in relation to dignity at work, diversity and equal opportunities
  • act upon any inappropriate behaviour (in line with this policy and the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure). It is not acceptable to do nothing as you and the organisation may later be held accountable for lack of action.

As an employer, the organisation must take all reasonably practical steps to ensure that:

  • all employees are able to work in a safe and non-threatening working environment
  • all managers and other employees are equipped to identify and deal with issues related to harassment, bullying, victimisation and discrimination
  • all reasonable steps, including appropriate training and advice are in place to prevent the occurrence of harassment and/or bullying
  • all complaints are dealt with sensitively, effectively, professionally and quickly
  • incidents of unacceptable behaviour are monitored and issues arising addressed
  • policy and procedures are reviewed regularly
Example 2: Dignity at work policy

Our organisation is committed to working towards creating a workplace in which all employees are treated with dignity and respect.

The aims of the Dignity at Work Policy are to:

  • ensure the dignity at work of all our employees
  • promote respect and value of differencesmake full use of the talents of all the workforce
  • demonstrate our commitment to equal opportunities for all
  • prevent acts of discrimination, exclusion, unfair treatment and other negative or demeaning behaviours
  • promote effective and constructive communications
  • support effective handling of conflict
  • educate our workforce in the development of positive behaviours

The organisation recognises that everyone benefits from a workplace that promotes a fulfilling and productive working relationship; encourages the constructive discussion of differences of views and approaches; and, deals firmly but fairly with negative behaviours, including bullying and harassment.

This approach benefits the organisation and the employee by:

  • providing clear examples of the positive behaviours that it expects from all its employees
  • providing training and support in resolving difference and conflict
  • monitoring the organisational culture and climate
  • providing effective and fair processes and procedures for dealing with negative behaviours including bullying and harassment.

Our organisation will:

  • protect the dignity of all our employees
  • review all policies and procedures so that they are consistent with the principles of justice, fairness and respect for employees and the organisation
  • ensure that there are appropriate procedures, systems and campaigns in place to promote the dignity of the employee at work
  • educate all employees on their personal responsibility to behave in a way that respects the dignity of fellow workers
  • audit and review the key indicators of adherence to the dignity at work standards
  • provide advice, information and support that protects the dignity of our workers
  • raise awareness of the Dignity at Work Policy and Procedures, making training and education available at all levels in the organisation
  • develop systems to assess the effectiveness of our actions and intervention
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Guide to preventing bullying and harassment

Practical and relevant advice and sources of support for individual and employers to help prevent bullying and harassment occurring and deal effectively with any instances which do occur.