Last reviewed on 23 November 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
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Use our model policy to help you deal with incidents of workplace harassment, bullying and victimisation confidently and consistently, so you can offer your staff the support they need.

Download our model policy

It's designed for you to adapt to suit your school's context. We developed it with Forbes SolicitorsNAHT and our associate expert Clive Dobbin. It's approved by Forbes Solicitors.

Please note: you should consult with the unions represented at your school before implementing any new policy regarding the employment of staff.

Dignity at work or grievance?

It's up to you to decide whether a formal complaint will be dealt with under your school's dignity at work policy or your grievance procedures. You'll need to decide this on a case-by-case basis. This is also noted in section 7 of our model policy.

As a rough guide, you should deal with complaints about harassment, bullying or victimisation under the dignity at work policy. Having a standalone policy for these issues can help to show your commitment to ensuring you won't tolerate them in your school, potentially putting you in a stronger position in the rare situation that a case goes to an employment tribunal.

Complaints about other work-related issues, such as processes or the way work is being managed or carried out by others, are likely to fall under your grievance procedures. Take a look at our model grievance policy to compare the 2 documents, and get support in writing your own.

Your responsibilities

Employers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

You're also required to publish information to demonstrate how you're complying with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in eliminating discrimination and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010.

You don't have to have a dignity at work policy, but having one can support you to meet these requirements.

ILO convention against violence and harassment in the workplace

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), part of the United Nations, has adopted a convention on eliminating violence and harassment at work, and has published recommendations alongside this. The UK has now ratified this convention and it now applies in the UK.

The government may pass additional legislation to help put aspects of the convention and recommendations into practice. 

You don't need to do anything until then. We'll keep you up to date on any developments (click 'save for later' in the top-right-hand corner of this article for email updates).

Previous updates

8 December 2021 - we updated the following in our model policy: 

  • Section 3.2 - to clarify when bullying is considered to be harassment
  • Section 4 - to add social media harassment to the list of examples of unacceptable behaviour 
  • Section 9 - to change the wording around data protection law to 'UK data protection law'

If you haven't reviewed your policy since then, consider whether you need to update it in line with these changes.


Clive Dobbin is a partner at Paris Smith LLP solicitors in Southampton, where he is head of the employment department. He has extensive experience of advising schools and colleges, as well as considerable experience as a governor. He has also acted as the clerk to the governors of another school.