50% Increase In Employment Tribunal Bullying Claims

| General

The results of a poll conducted by GQ Littler has discovered that there has been approximately a fifty per cent rise in allegations in connection with language which was loosely described by the survey as workplace banter. 

I Was Only Joking…Its Just Harmless Chitchat…Isn’t It? 

Some persons engaged in this behaviour within the workplace and when confronted by it have a way of quickly finding some excuse for their conduct. When called out on their behaviour they may resort to making the following allegations in response: 

  • the person on the receiving end of their unguarded comments was being too sensitive  
  • they may respond to the allegations submitted by their loosely termed ‘target’ and claim that they were ‘only joking’ or that they admit to exhibiting this form of behaviour to other members of staff  
  • by claiming that they are making remarks which are not to be designed to be perceived as damaging, harmful or distressing in any way and
  • deny in the strongest possible terms intending to frighten, scare or alarm the person perceptively on the receiving end of the comments.  

However, persons who are harbouring this view regarding both their own behaviour and those of their fellow respective work colleagues in the workplace then it is very much misconceived as the hammer can fall upon businesses employing such persons. In the worst case scenarios such organisations may find themselves walking down a track they do not want to proceed down and towards being subject to successful actions for harassment or victimisation claims.      

I Can Claim For Workplace Bullying In The Employment Tribunal, Can’t I?

Many persons on the receiving end of perceived workplace bullying are of the view that they can complain to their respective Human Resources Department, following the respective informal and formal grievance procedures, then enter the ACAS dispute resolution process before then submitting a claim in the Employment Tribunal within the three months less one day limitation period. However, not meaning to rain on anyone’s parade if they live under this misconception, the UK Government has made it clear that claims in relation to workplace bullying cannot be submitted to the Employment Tribunal. They have elaborated that harassment claims can only be made in relation to protected characteristics as set out under the Equality Act 2010. As a reminder to the reader these are claims in connection with the following: 

  • sex
  • race
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • maternity and pregnancy
  • religion and belief
  • sexual orientation
  • age and
  • marriage and civil partnership. 

So How Should Employers Be Responding To The Results Of This Survey?

Lawyers and legal professionals should be advising businesses who are employing staff to take some time to read, review and absorb the messages found in the result of this survey. They should be:  

  • ensuring that they have in place and are enforcing a set of policies in relation to anti-bullying and harassment 
  • creating a culture whereby members of the respective workforce can mitigate the risk of conduct which can be regarded as bullying taking place
  • making it straightforward for those working for such businesses to submit grievances 
  • communicating that if they make the difficult decision to submit a grievance by utilising the respective procedures then they will be offered assistance, help and safeguarded in the workplace  
  • clearly informing such staff that all allegations put forward of this nature will be taken seriously, independently investigated and 
  • records are kept of such actions taken for professionalism.  

The findings of this research is eye-opening due to what it revealed in terms of the seemingly soaring amounts of workplace bullying happening in the workplace. Following the above strategy  will reduce the likelihood of persons having to experience this conduct.     


#Allen&Overy #BakerMcKenzie #HerbertSmithFreehillsLLP #LewisSilkin #MishcondeReya #Simmons&Simmons #AddleshawGoddard #CliffordChanceLLP #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #EvershedsSutherlandLLP #LinklatersLLP #TaylorWessing #TraversSmith #Bird&Bird 


[SOURCE 1] Coleman, Lisa – ‘UK employment tribunal cases relating to ‘banter’ up 45% in a year’ – 4th May 2022 –  GQ Littler - UK employment tribunal cases relating to ‘banter’ up 45% in a year - News & Views (gqlittler.com)

[SOURCE 2] Holmes, Nina – ‘Why employers should be aware of office banter’ – 2nd December 2022 – People Management - Why employers should beware of office banter (peoplemanagement.co.uk)

[SOURCE 3] UK Government – Workplace bullying and Harassment – Workplace bullying and harassment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

[SOURCE 4] Equality Act 2010



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