Unacceptable behaviour policy


The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society strives to provide a high standard of customer care to all those involved with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The Fringe Society also has a legal duty of care to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its staff, and all staff have the right to be treated with respect in the workplace.  The Fringe Society’s staff have the right to have any reports of unacceptable behaviour dealt with fully and fairly. This policy sets out the approach that will be undertaken in circumstances where the behaviour of any individual who is not employed by the Fringe Society is considered to be unacceptable.

We recognise that individuals may sometimes act out of character at times of stress, anxiety or distress and that the Fringe can be a stressful environment and staff should make reasonable allowances for this. All incidences of unacceptable behaviour should be dealt with in accordance with this policy.


To ensure the Fringe Society meets its duty of care towards its staff by ensuring there is a clear and effective procedure in place to manage incidences of unacceptable behaviour by those not employed by the Society.

Definition and Scope

We do not expect our staff to tolerate behaviour that we consider to be unacceptable, and will take action to protect our staff from such behaviour. We will, for example, not accept behaviour, verbal or physical that is:

Abusive, offensive or defamatory:

  • Violence is not restricted to acts of aggression that may result in physical harm. It also includes behaviour or language, whether oral or written, that may cause staff to feel afraid, threatened or abused.
  • This includes, but is not limited to: personal abuse; hate speech; expletives/offensive/threatening language; spam; derogatory remarks and rudeness.
  • We consider inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations as examples of abusive behaviour.

Aggressive, threatening, coercive or intimidating:

  • Examples of behaviours grouped under this heading include threats, physical violence, personal verbal abuse, unwanted physical attention, including of a sexual nature, and unwanted personal attention (including, for example, on social media).
  • This policy would also apply to any abusive or aggressive behaviour made towards a member of staff’s family or friends in connection with their work at the Society.

Unreasonably persistent or demanding:

  • Where we consider an individuals makes demands on our staff that are considered to be unreasonable, for example through the amount of information they seek, the nature and scale of service they expect, or the number of approaches they make, this policy will apply.
  • Examples of actions grouped under this heading include demanding responses within an unreasonable time-scale, insisting on seeing or speaking to a particular member of staff or representative of the Society, continual phone calls or letters, involving staff in irrelevant and unwarranted discussion, repeatedly changing the substance of the matter or raising unrelated concerns.
  • We recognise that in some cases, individuals will not accept that we are unable to assist them further or provide a level of service other than that already provided. Individuals may persist in disagreeing with the action or decision taken in relation to their concern or contact the office persistently about the same issue. Unreasonably persistent and disagreeable behaviour regarding our stated actions and services may constitute unreasonable behaviour.
  • Examples of actions grouped under this heading include persistent refusal to accept a decision made in relation to a concern, persistent refusal to accept explanations relating to what we can or cannot do, and continuing to pursue a matter without presenting any new information. The way in which these individuals approach us may be entirely reasonable, but it is their persistent behaviour in continuing to do so that is not.
  • We consider the actions of persistent individuals to be unacceptable when they take up what is considered to be a disproportionate amount of time and resource.


The Fringe Society have an internal procedure for the management of such complaints, and will take all complaints seriously, seeking legal advice if necessary.

Unacceptable behaviour may be met with a number of different actions, including, but not limited to:

  • Removal of service delivery (e.g. cancellation of show, advertising or other engagement).
  • Requesting contact in a particular form (e.g. in writing only) or removing it entirely.
  • Requiring that contact take place with a single, named individual (e.g. the Head of Department).
  • Restricting telephone calls to specified days and times.
  • Asking the complainant to appoint a representative to correspond with us.
  • Asking the complainant to enter into an agreement about their conduct.

Where any behaviour threatens the immediate safety and welfare of staff or others, we will consider other options, e.g. reporting the matter to the police or taking legal action. In such cases we may not give the complainant prior warning of that action.

Any decision on restricting access will be taken by the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team.