May 5th, 2023
6 mins

After being accused of eight bullying complaints involving 24 civil servants over four years, Dominic Raab resigned from his positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary last month. These complaints alleged he was verbally abusive towards staff, undermined their work and created a hostile working environment, which were partly upheld by independent investigation reports.

We outline the actions employers should take to prevent bullying from occurring in the first place, and how to respond appropriately once aware of such behaviour.

Ensure anti-bullying and harassment policies are in place

To ensure a safe and inclusive environment, a decisive and strong approach must be taken. Employers should aim to have clear policies in place that outline what behaviour will constitute bullying and harassment, and what employees can do should they witness or experience such behaviour. The policy should be communicated to all employees and strictly enforced.

Conduct regular training and make sure managers lead by example

Leaders and managers have a significant impact on their team’s culture and behaviour and should lead by example by treating their staff with respect, listening to concerns and providing support where needed. Regular training to all employees, including those in managerial or supervisory roles, should be undertaken to recognise and prevent bullying and harassment. This training should cover the policy, reporting procedures and the consequences of violating anti-bullying policy.

Encourage a respectful workplace culture

One of the allegations against Raab is that he subjected Foreign Office workers to “abrasive, intimidating and undermining treatment.” Employers should encourage an open culture of respect, inclusivity and clear communication, in turn reducing the likelihood of bullying and harassment in the first place. This may be achieved through active efforts from employees, regular employee feedback, surveys, and team-building activities.

Investigate and respond to complaints

Employers should take all allegations of bullying and harassment seriously, confidentially, and impartially. This includes conducting a thorough investigation and taking appropriate disciplinary action if necessary. This has also been highlighted by the recent events with the CBI and the investigation carried out into significant concerns raised there.

One of the more controversial elements of Raab’s resignation is his comment that the inquiry into his behaviour was “setting the threshold for bullying so low… a dangerous precedent.” This perhaps demonstrates little remorse from the former Deputy PM and serves as an example of what to avoid when addressing complaints.

Employers should provide support to employees affected by bullying and harassment. This could include access to counselling services or making reasonable adjustments to working arrangements.

We’re here to help

We are assisting more and more clients with investigations, so if this is something that you require assistance with, and an independent and expert approach to investigations of such serious issues, do get in touch and we can support you with this.

By incorporating the above practices, employers can create a positive work environment free from bullying and harassment, ensuring that all employees are treated with respect and dignity. Raab’s resignation and the recent concerns troubling the CBI should serve as a reminder that workplace bullying and harassment are serious issues that can have hugely damaging consequences.

Employers should take proactive steps to prevent bullying and harassment from occurring, and if allegations are made, they should be handled promptly and fairly.


Contact: Matt McDonald

Philip Pepper