Research perspectives

Third of workers have experienced bullying disguised as “banter” survey finds

According to a survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK by law firm Irwin Mitchell, around a third those polled have been bullied at work by comments disguised as “banter”.

Such bullying was most likely to affect those aged 45 to 54 and more commonly among women, with over 35% saying they had experienced it in this manner.

The volume varied greatly by industry as half of those working in sports said they had experienced it, compared with 38% in accounting/finance and retail, and 39% in hospitality

Jo Moseley, employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said unchecked behaviour is where the risk lies for employers, adding that Tribunals don’t t normally trouble themselves about the reasons why someone made discriminatory remarks. They will focus instead on the impact those words had on the person offended by them. “ an employer will only be able to defend a claim if it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent harassment or discrimination”.

The survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,179 people in the UK.