At Co-op we want all colleagues to feel safe, valued and listened to. It’s important to us that when you have an issue or a concern that is impacting how you feel about work, that you know what to do and who you can speak to.

As your employer we have a duty of care to protect you at work. Everyone should be treated with dignity. We want you to know that any form of bullying and harassment is unacceptable.

This short guide will help you to understand what to do and what will happen if you raise a concern or you see, hear or are affected directly by bullying and harassment.

We encourage informal resolution at every opportunity and to nip matters in the bud first before they become formal. We all have an important role to play. If you hear or see an issue – speak up and call it out.

What does Bullying and Harassing behaviour look like?

Bullying and harassing behaviour can take many forms and examples of this might include:

  • Humiliating or undermining someone either in private or in front of others
  • Cyber bullying via social networking channels
  • Persistent unwarranted criticism
  • Changing work responsibilities, deadlines or work guidelines without warning
  • Shouting or insulting behaviour
  • Being excluded

It is important to let someone know as soon as you can if you feel such behaviour is related to your age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

What if my complaint is serious - for example if I feel like I am being bullied by another colleague?

We take any allegations of bullying seriously at the Co-op and we have a zero-tolerance approach which means we do not accept this type of behaviour. The impact of bullying can make it difficult to know what to do and where to turn to for help. Identifying that there is a problem and its impact on you is the first step. There are several approaches you may wish to consider depending on how you feel and on the nature of the bullying or harassing behaviour.

Sometimes it might help to talk to the colleague about how their behaviour is making you feel – they may not be aware of their actions or did not intend to upset you. If you don’t feel able to speak to them yourself, speak to your line manager as soon as you can and explain what has happened. It can be helpful if you have kept a detailed account of what has happened and when.

What if my complaint is about my line manager?

Speak to another manager or colleague that you trust as soon as possible about what is going on so appropriate steps can be taken to resolve things.

What if my manager tells me my performance is not good enough – is this bullying?

Managing colleague’s performance, setting and reviewing targets are part of a manager’s daily role. Discussions about performance should be a two-way process giving constructive feedback and encouragement to work towards your goals. Managing performance is not bullying, as long as it is done in the right way.

What if I want my concern heard but I don’t want to raise a formal grievance?

We actively encourage all colleagues to raise any complaints in the moment and before they escalate. Talk to your manager to tell them what the problem is and how you would like it resolved. They will be able to suggest ways to help gets it sorted quickly without the need for the formal grievance process.

What do I do if I have an issue about my pay, hours of work or other terms and conditions?

Many of these issues can be resolved quickly so speak to your line manager in the first instance. Tell them the problem and how you think it needs to be resolved – your manager may not be aware that there is an issue until you raise it.

What if the problem does not get sorted and I want to make things more formal?

It’s always best to try and resolve things as quickly as possible informally but we know this does not always happen. The Grievance Process sets out the steps you should follow if you want to make a formal grievance, which is usually in writing.

What can I expect when I raise a concern?

Whether it’s just an informal chat or you put a formal grievance in writing, your manager needs to know as much as possible in order to help resolve the problem. You will be asked to explain your concerns in detail and the manager will ask questions to make sure they get everything they need. This can include dates and times of events, statements about things that have been said or done and details of any witnesses.

It’s important to us to understand how you would like us to help to resolve the issue and the impact that it is having on you.

What support is available to me?

We know that it can take courage to raise your concerns and talk about things openly and that this can be an emotional time for some colleagues. The Employee Assistance Programme and the Wellbeing Hub are both excellent sources of support. You are also entitled to a Trade Union representative or to have a colleague present at any formal meetings.

We have a confidential colleague helpline that you can contact for advice on 0844 728 0165 or

What’s the difference between a grievance and whistleblowing?

A grievance is a complaint about something that is affecting you in some way and you would like it resolved. You can raise a grievance informally or formally.

Whistleblowing is when you are concerned about some wrongdoing in the workplace that affects everyone such as a risk to health and safety or bribery.