No Harsh or Inhumane Treatment

What you must do - Law 1

In the UK (including Wales and Scotland), the key pieces of legislation related to this issue are The Employment Act 2002 and The Employment Rights Act 1996.

Click here for key elements of the law. (Displayed in a popup window.)

No harsh or inhumane treatment

Key elements include:

  • Discipline and grievance procedures
  • Fair and unfair dismissal
  • Preventing and dealing with harassment, victimisation and bullying

The legal requirements

These are the MINIMUM standards you MUST implement on site to be legally compliant.  These requirements are for ALL types of workers

Duty of Care

  • Employers have a 'duty of care' for all their workers.
  • Employers are usually responsible in law for the acts of their workers.
  • Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassing behaviour.

Harassment and bullying

  • Harassment is defined as behaviour that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. The key is that the behaviour is viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient.
  • Bullying is behaviour that is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting, an abuse or misuse of power in ways intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.
  • Examples of bullying at work may include the following:
    • Shouting at staff.
    • Persistently picking on people in front of others or in private
    • Competent staff being constantly criticised, having responsibilities removed or being given trivial tasks to do.
    • Setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines.
    • Regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding individuals from work activities.
    • Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone.
    • Exclusion or victimisation.
    • Unfair treatment.
    • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
    • Unwelcome sexual advances - touching, standing too close, display of offensive materials.
    • Making threats or comments about job security without foundation.
  • Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.
  • If an employee feels obliged to resign from their post as a result of harassing or bullying behaviour, they may be deemed to have been dismissed (constructive dismissal) by an employment tribunal. This can result in the claimant being awarded compensation for loss of earnings


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