Bullying and harassment

Bullying and harassment involves a more powerful person or group of people oppressing a less powerful person or group, often because they’re different.

These differences can be related to culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability or disability, physical appearance, age or economic status.

Workplace bullying affects the psychological and physical health of not only the aggressor and the victim, but also everyone in the workplace.

Apprentice being bullied by supervisor or colleague

What is workplace bullying and harassment?

Bullying includes cultural insensitivity, unfair and excessive criticism, publicly insulting people, ignoring a person’s point of view, constantly changing or setting unrealistic work targets, and undervaluing someone’s efforts at work.

Harassment is unwelcome behaviour that humiliates, offends or intimidates. It is neither appropriate nor relevant to work.

Someone may be harassed through the use of words, actions, images, attitudes, and the creation of a hostile or threatening atmosphere.


Workplace bullying and harassment can occur through verbal or physical abuse, email, text messages, instant messaging or on other social media channels. In some cases, workplace bullying continues outside the workplace.

The most effective way to prevent or address bullying is for your employer to send a clear message that workplace bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

What to do if you're bullied or harassed at work

  • Seek help and advice from someone you trust
  • If you’re able, tell the bully that you find their behaviour unreasonable
  • If their behaviour doesn't stop, see if your employer has a bullying policy and follow the procedures to report it
  • Check if your industrial award or workplace agreement details processes for bullying or grievance handling
  • We can talk to your employer and provide mediation if needed. Contact Training Services NSW, phone 13 28 11.
  • See a doctor, if necessary.
Stop bullying and harassment notice

Who can help you?

  • Your work supervisor or employer
  • Your company’s workplace, occupational health and safety representative
  • Your company’s personnel or HR department
  • Your union, if you’re a member
  • SafeWork NSW
Supervisor helping employee


Page last updated: 4 September 2018