Bullying and Harassment Policy

 

Overview

The company is committed to providing all of its employees with an environment free from bullying/harassment.

 

All employees will be expected to comply with this policy and management will take appropriate measures to ensure that bullying/harassment does not occur.

 

Appropriate disciplinary action, including dismissal for serious offences, will be taken against any employee who violates this policy.

 

The policy applies to employees both in the workplace and at work associated events such as meetings, conferences and work related social events, whether on the premises or off site.

 

The policy applies to bullying/harassment not only by fellow employees but also by a client, customer or other business contact to which an employee might reasonably expect to come into contact with in the course of their employment.

 

            Definition of Bullying

Bullying can be defined as: “Workplace bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying.”

 

The bullying can include conduct offensive to a reasonable person, e.g. oral or written slurs, physical contact, gestures, jokes, displaying pictures, flags/emblems, graffiti or other material which state/imply prejudicial attitudes which are offensive to fellow employees.

 

Other examples of bullying behaviour include:

  • Personal insults and name calling
  • Persistent unjustified criticism and sarcasm
  • Public or private humiliation
  • Shouting at staff in public and/or private
  • Sneering
  • Instantaneous rage, often over trivial issues
  • Unfair delegation of duties and responsibilities
  • Setting impossible deadlines
  • Unnecessary work interference
  • Making it difficult for staff to have access to necessary information
  • Aggression
  • Not giving credit for work contribution
  • Continuously refusing reasonable requests without good reasons
  • Intimidation and threats in general.

 

            Definition of Harassment

Sexual harassment is any form of verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person.

 

The unwanted conduct may consist of acts, requests, spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material. Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Sexual gestures
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objectives, pictures, calendars
  • Sending suggestive and pornographic correspondence including faxes, text messages or e-mails
  • Unwelcome sexual comments and jokes
  • Unwelcome physical conduct such as pinching, unnecessary touching, etc.
  • Same sex sexual harassment.

 

Harassment on the grounds of gender, marital status, family status, race, age, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability or membership of the traveller community is defined as any unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

 

The unwanted conduct may consist of acts, requests, spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material.

 

            Complaints Procedure

There is both an informal and formal procedure to deal with the issue of bullying / harassment at work. Any investigation will be completed as quickly as possible.

 

Informal Procedure

  • It is often preferable for all concerned that complaints of bullying or harassment are dealt with informally whenever possible. This is likely to produce solutions that are speedy, effective and minimise embarrassment and the risk of breaching confidentiality. Thus, in the first instance a person who believes that they are the subject of bullying/harassment should ask the person responsible to stop the offensive behaviour.

 

  • If a person finds it difficult to approach the alleged perpetrator directly then a person should seek help and advice on a confidential basis from their line manager or the General Manager. This person can be a work colleague, a supervisor / manager, shop steward/trade union official). The role of the designated contact person is not to judge but rather to provide advice and assistance about what the company’s policy says.

 

  • Having consulted with the contact person, the complainant may request the assistance of a manager / supervisor in raising the issue with the alleged perpetrator(s). In this situation the approach of the manager / supervisor should be by way of a confidential, non-confrontational discussion with a view to resolving the issue in an informal low-key manner.

 

  • A complainant may decide, for whatever reason, to bypass the informal procedure. Choosing not to use the informal procedure will not reflect negatively on a complainant in the formal procedure.

 

  • It is recognised that it may not always be practical to use the informal procedure particularly where the bullying or harassment is serious or where the people involved are at different levels in the organisation. In such instances the employee should use the formal mechanism set out below.

 

Formal Procedure

  • When a formal complaint is being made, then the employee should contact their supervisor/manager as soon as possible. If this is inappropriate, then the employee should contact the General Manager In the interests of natural justice the alleged bully or harasser will be notified in writing of the nature of the complaint, given a copy of the allegation, informed of his or her right to representation and will be given every opportunity to rebut the detailed allegations made.

 

  • A formal investigation of the complaint will take place with a view to determining the facts and the credibility or otherwise of the allegation(s).

 

  • Whilst it is desirable to maintain utmost confidentiality, once an investigation of an issue begins, it may be necessary to interview other staff. If this is so, the importance of confidentiality will be stressed to them. Any statements taken from witnesses will be circulated to the person making the complaint and the alleged bully/harasser for their comments before any conclusion is reached in the investigation. When the investigation has been completed both parties will be informed as to whether or not the complaint has been upheld.

 

  • Both parties will be given the opportunity to comment on the findings before any action is decided upon by management. All complaints received will be treated seriously, confidentially and dealt with as soon as is practicable.

 

  • Strict confidentiality and discretion will be maintained, in any necessary consultation to safeguard both parties from innuendo and harmful gossip.

 

  • A record of all relevant discussions which take place during the course of the investigation will be maintained by management. Both parties will be given an opportunity to comment on the conclusions of the investigation team. Both parties will be given a copy, in writing, of the conclusions reached by the investigating team.

 

Appeal

Either party can appeal the decision of the formal investigation in writing within 5 working days.

 

Action Post Investigation

  • Where a complaint is upheld a disciplinary hearing will take place. The disciplinary action to be taken will be in line with the company’s disciplinary policy. Should a case of bullying or harassment be proven then the organisation will take appropriate disciplinary action.

 

  • This can include a warning, transfer, demotion or other appropriate action up to and including dismissal. Records of any warnings for bullying/harassment will remain in the employee’s file and will be used in determining disciplinary action to be taken if any further offences of the same or similar nature occur in the future.

 

  • Regular checks will be made by one of the investigators to ensure that the bullying/harassment has stopped and that there has been no victimisation for referring a complaint in good faith. Retaliation of any kind against an employee for complaining or taking part in an investigation concerning bullying/harassment at work is a serious disciplinary offence.

 

Malicious Complaints

If a complaint is found to be malicious, then the appropriate disciplinary action up to and including dismissal will be imposed.

 

Further Information

All questions relating to the execution or interpretation of this policy should be referred to your direct line manager.