Post EU Referendum Racism in the Workplace

Only a few weeks after the EU referendum result was announced, there has been a surge in racially motivated violence and hate crime on the streets and hate messages on social media.

Police reports show there has been a 57 per cent increase in hate crimes since the results on the 24 June 2016, where over 51 per cent of UK voters decided to leave the European Union. There have been more than 3000 allegations of hate crime across Britain and Police believe it’s the worst spike ever to be recorded

Migrant workers, refugees, Muslims - especially women and children are the main victims of these attacks. Attacks and incidents such as a Polish community centre being vandalised in Hammersmith, laminated cards being left in schools and homes in Cambridgeshire with the message “no more polish vermin’ conveniently written in both English and Polish,  far right protesters hurling abuse outside a mosque in Birmingham,  a Muslim woman was shouted at to “get out of the country” on the streets of East London and another Muslim woman had “Brexit” yelled in her face at London’s Kings Cross Station – all show a worrying rise in hate towards particular sections of Britain’s community.

As well as hate on the streets, there is rising concern over the levels of post EU referendum hate comments online. From the period 24 June to 1 July there has been 13,000 tweets identified with xenophobic or anti-immigration attitudes in the UK.

Often hate and racism fuelled on the streets and online can find its way in the workplace. It is vital that everyone feels protected and safe in the workplace and not feel threatened or discriminated against in any shape or form. Here are things you can do to protect yourself and others from being harassed or threatened at work. It is a basic human right for everyone in Britain to feel safe on the streets, at home and at work.


Under the Equality Act 2010 you are protected against discrimination at work. If you feel that you are being discriminated, the first steps you need to take is to identify who is treating you unfairly and why.

Who is treating you unfairly?

There are people at work who cannot discriminate against you, this includes employers, other employees or colleagues, employment agencies and someone an employment agency arranges you to work for.

On what grounds are you being treated unfairly at work?

Under the Equality Act 2010 there are nine protected characteristics:

  1. Age
  2. Disability
  3. Gender reassignment
  4. Marriage and civil partnership
  5. Pregnancy and maternity
  6. Race
  7. Religion or belief
  8. Sex
  9. Sexual orientation

These are the three main types of discrimination you might face at work relating to race hate incidents

  1. Direct discrimination: If you believe you are treated differently because of who you are or what someone perceives you to be.
  2. Harassment: if someone’s behaviour is offensive, making you feel scared or is distressing
  3. Racial or religious: if you believe you are being treated unfairly because of your nationality, colour, ethnic background or religion or belief.


Since the EU referendum results many EU citizens working in the UK are worried about their rights to remain in Britain and what will happen in the future. People with EU citizenship still have the right to live and work in Britain. This will not stop or be changed until the UK leaves the EU, which will take 2 years after Article 50 is invoked by the UK government – this will trigger off new agreements and policies for EU citizens already in the UK.

This process will take time and there is no need to take immediate action, however if you have any questions you can contact your country of origin embassy or consulate. (Details in the next section).


To talk

Unions: talk to your union representative. If you are not a member of a union, use the Union Finder to help you find the best union for you. It’s worth the investment.

Support: If you believe you are being discriminated against at work then contact Equality Advisory and Support Service 0808 800 0082. Victim support helplines - England and Wales - 0808 168 911; Scotland - 0345 603 9213. ACAS also provides neutral advice on various work matters, including incidents of race hate in the workplace.

EU nationals: can get information your country of origin embassy or consulate. If you need help to find your embassy or consulate, contact Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444.

To report

For reporting acts of racial violence or hate crimes, you should call the police on 101, in case of an emergency always dial 999. In Scotland, report hate incidents directly on the Police Scotland website -

True Vision, for reporting hate crime -

If you don’t want to report directly to the police, True Vision have information about third party reporting centres. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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