Getting help and advice about harassment at work
You have the right under UK law: *
To be treated with dignity and respect at work
To work in a workplace free from harassment
To have your welfare protected at work
Harassment is when someone violates your dignity or creates an intimidating, humiliating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment
You may be suffering from harassment by colleagues, by your manager, by customers or by members of the public or customers with whom you are in contact with through your work.
It is important that your employer has a policy in place to prevent harassment and that your employer’s harassment policy covers all of these situations and is enforced. Your employer should take steps to minimise any risks of harassment and they should make sure that you are supported if it does happen. It is important that all incidents of harassment are reported to your manager so that they can be dealt with.
You may be the subject of harassment if, for example, someone: verbally abused you; asked you very personal questions; made rude gestures or facial expressions towards you; told you inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature or made comments you find offensive. If your colleagues say that this was just a joke or friendly banter, it might still be harassment if it meets the definition of harassment in the Equality Act. It doesn't matter whether the behaviour was specifically directed at you or not - for example if you overhear work colleagues making sexist or racist jokes to each other. If the harassment is very serious, it might also be a crime - for example, if someone made physical threats or sexually assaulted you.
Your employer is also responsible for any harassment enacted by any of your colleagues if the discrimination happens to you at work or at any events organised by them - such as an office party, a work dinner, or an office away day. If a colleague is harassing you then both your colleague and your employer are responsible.
The law can apply to one-off incidents or to patterns of behaviour – both of which can have a huge impact on victims, impacting both career and mental health.
Your union representative is your starting point for getting help from us with any problem at work.
Sometimes members feel that they can sort things out on their own, but it is important to talk to your union representative as soon as possible. Sometimes trying to sort out an issue without proper advice can make the problem much worse. We are here to help you and you can contact your union representative by calling 0333 2423 526.
Your union representative will discuss the situation with you, agree a way forward with you and together they will help you achieve the best possible outcome for you.
You have a legal right to belong to a trade union and your employer is forbidden from treating you unfavourably because you join a trade union, take part in trade union activities or use the services trade unions provide for their members. You also have a right to be accompanied by a trade union representative at any grievance meetings, disciplinary hearings and disciplinary appeals.
* From the Equalities Act (2010) and Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974)