What can I do to tackle a bully?

Whatever steps you decide to take, you have the right to work in a safe environment. This includes not being harassed or bullied by anyone. You should not have to suffer in silence.

Confronting a bully yourself is not easy. It's probably only effective in its early stages. Often, the bully is a manager, so you need to get good, confidential advice on what to do.

These suggestions are drawn from the experience of people who have suffered from bullying, and from union and voluntary sector advice. We suggest you read through the sections below and think things over before deciding where to start.

Talking to someone

  • Talking to and getting advice from someone you feel you can trust can help overcome any feelings of isolation or helplessness.
  • Visit your GP. Make an appointment with your doctor if you are experiencing ill-health effects of bullying. (Also see our Dealing with Doctors section.)
  • If you are a union member, talk to your union rep in confidence. Union reps should be able to advise you. They know the right procedures, and can help you deal with it, formally or informally.
  • Contact a voluntary organisation or helpline. Bullying UK provides confidential help and advice and support on bullying. Call 0808 800 2222.
  • Some employers nominate 'harassment advisers'. These fellow workers support and provide confidential advice to victims of bullying.
  • Use an employee helpline. Some employers and unions operate free, confidential advice lines.
  • Keep a record or diary. Record the date/time/place of important incidents, abuse, accusations, changes to your job, etc. Keep copies of relevant letters, memos and appraisals.
  • Keep a copy of any 'cyber-bullying', e.g. copies of offensive text messages, or screen prints of offensive Facebook entries.

Being better informed

  • Get a copy of your employer's bullying and harassment or grievance procedure – it may be in the staff handbook
  • One of the anti-bullying handbooks we recommend is the TUC handbook Keeping Well at Work (priced £9.99), which gives examples of how people have coped with bullying.

Taking action

  • Think about talking to the bully. But if you decide to do so, then first of all go over what you want to say with someone else who understands what you are going through.
  • Have a clear idea what you would expect to happen. Then, tell the bully how you find their behaviour unacceptable. Describe its effect on you. Make a note of this meeting, who said what and the outcome. If this informal approach doesn't work, there are other formal options to use later.
  • Make a formal complaint. Be well prepared. Familiarise yourself with your employer's procedures. Get a copy of your job description if you believe your harassment includes changes to your main responsibilities.
  • Use your right to be accompanied at any meeting. Take a companion of your choice (fellow worker or someone outside) with you into any grievance hearing. This includes meetings with management on bullying.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

What is WorkSmart?

A career coach that works for everyone.


Enjoy bite-sized activities delivered to you every week.

Lightbulb brain

Equip yourself with essential skills to be the best you yet.


Get the guidance you need to stay focused and reach your goals.

Worksmart circle