In the UK are there any laws or legal recourse surrounding someone being bullied in the workplace?

I am asking on behalf of my partner who has been threatened by her line manager and often receives a constant stream of verbal abuse and shouting. I heard her take a call from her manager today and could hear the shouting from the other side of the room.

She now feels that she cannot continue to work in this environment and it has started affecting her health.

As far as I know, if she were to leave her job this could potentially be constructive dismissal.

What are the protections and options provided for regarding abusive or unhealthy work places in the United Kingdom?

  • Best bet is for your partner to go straight to the Citizens Advice Bureau who can assist with this sort of problem. Have a look at the following link on how you can get in contact: citizensadvice.org.uk/index/getadvice.htm Apr 15, 2014 at 10:29
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    ACAS may also be able to help.
    – Joe
    Apr 15, 2014 at 10:49
  • legal advice is off-topic per help center
    – gnat
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:22
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    If she intends to claim constructive dismissal, make sure she has admissable evidence documenting the abusive behavior. Consider checking to see if it's legal to record private conversations in your location.
    – aroth
    Apr 15, 2014 at 12:34
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    I have edited the quesrtion to ask about options and protections instead of asking what to do. I would think if you have an understanding of your protections and options you could make your own decision about what to do. Apr 15, 2014 at 21:36

1 Answer 1


The first thing I would do would be to join a Trade Union - or speak to your union rep if you are already a member. There is an interactive tool on the TUC site to help find one that is suitable. Remember, the HR team at work is there to protect the business, not the employees.

Secondly, she should start documenting events as they happen. It's easier with emails than with conversations. There's nothing wrong or illegal about recording a call or conversation with your phone.

This is important because she needs to be able to demonstrate objective facts - not just "I sometimes feel that..." She needs to be able to say "On Thursday at 11:22 he said..."

Thirdly, if at all possible, she should address this with her manager. Some people don't understand the power their words and actions have. Simply saying "I don't think that's a professional way to behave in the workpace" or "When you shout at me - I don't perform at my best" can work.

Fourthly, speak to his manager or your HR team. They will almost certainly have processes in place to deal with abusive staff. Make sure that she has evidence - or at least co-workers who are also willing to back her up.

Finally, yes, there are laws against bullying and harassment in the workplace - assuming it's related to

  • age
  • sex
  • disability
  • gender (including gender reassignment)
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation

Best of luck - and I hope the situation can be resolved.

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