The Retail Book Association

Health & Wellbeing - Bullying

"Bullying is not big, and it is not clever. There is no place for it anywhere, and certainly not in the workplace."

Workplace bullying

Bullying will always affect one’s health and wellbeing, and it should be stopped immediately.

This Union’s Officers and Officials are committed to challenging any bully – particularly in order to prevent mental ill health, rather than to spot the signs when it may already be too late.

Bullying in the workplace is most often “top down” but can occasionally occur between colleagues.

Top down bullying may often be disguised or excused as “firm management”, and “necessary to meet the needs of the business”. Giving reasonable instructions to subordinates is fine, making unreasonable demands is not.

Top Down Bullying:

Common tactics.

Overloading workloads and setting unrealistic deadlines

Saying “If you don’t like it here, there’s the door”

Accompanying demands with threats

Embarrassing or humiliating employees in public, in front of colleagues, or via WhatsApp, other social media, or broadcast emails

Threatening behaviour is classed as gross misconduct in ACAS guidelines and in most employers’ disciplinary procedures.

If you are the victim of this sort of behaviour, or if you witness others being bullied, then you really do need to speak up.

We appreciate that this can be difficult, and there will be concern that it could make things worse.  It will not. Things will only get worse if bullying goes unchallenged.

We ask anyone who reads this, not just our members, to contact us if they wish to talk to us in total confidence.

We can be contacted from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week

Alternative Support Options

Everyone is different and you may feel more comfortable speaking to someone completely unrelated to work. If this is the case, you can speak to the following organisations for help and advice:

Samaritans Helpline
Available to all

Text: 116 123

Phone: 0808 164 0123


Mind helpline
Available to all
Mon-Fri 9am-6pm

Text: 86463

Phone: 0300 123 3393


TheMix helpline
Support for under-25s
7 days a week 4pm-11pm

Text :THEMIX to 85258

Phone: 0300 123 3393


Childline helpline
Support for under-19s
24 hours a day

Phone: 0800 1111


Mental Health Awareness

Mental Health Awareness Week in May is successful in raising awareness around the country via TV, the internet, and the press.

This is a subject that this union supports strongly, and continues to support throughout the year. See our Health & Safety page for details of our Mental Health First Aiders.

Some enlightened employers, too, have done a lot to raise awareness, and have trained Mental Health First Aiders within their organisations. The reality is that all employees are likely to suffer with their mental health during their working lives; as they juggle work alongside their ever changing personal and family commitments


Mental health problems affect people in different ways.
The Mental Health Foundation identifies three particularly common signs in the workplace:


Employees may seem irritable, sensitive to criticism, seem to lose their sense of humour.


An employee may make more mistakes than usual, indecisiveness and an inability to concentrate. Look out for sudden or unusual decreases in performance.


Begins arriving late, taking unofficial days off, not hitting deadlines and generally acting out of character.

Remember! Spotting some of these signs does not automatically mean there is an underlying mental health issue.

Instead, understanding the signs and talking to the person will mean you are taking proactive steps to support his/her workplace wellbeing.

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