Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure

This model policy is intended to provide an example to employers and employees of good practice. It is not intended to represent a statement of the law.

All staff should be treated with dignity and respect.  Bullying and harassment of any kind is not tolerated. It is important that if you feel you are being bullied or harassed you know you can do something about it.

What is bullying and harassment?

Harassment, in general terms is:

Unwanted conduct affecting your dignity. It may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion, nationality or any personal characteristic and may be persistent or an isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to you.

Bullying may be characterised as:

Bullying is regular intimidation that undermines the confidence and capability of individuals. Bullying can take the form of verbal abuse, violent gestures, physical violence, allocation of blame and 'picking on' employees unfairly, public humiliation or a more 'subtle' war of words to undermine the individual's confidence. This can be offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or confrontational behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate or make you feel threatened in any way.

Bullying or harassment may be by an individual against an individual (perhaps by someone in a position of authority such as a manager or supervisor) or involve groups of people. It may be obvious or it may be subtle. Whatever form it takes, it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual.

Bullying and harassment makes you feel anxious and humiliated. Feelings of anger and frustration at being unable to cope may be triggered. Some people may try to retaliate in some way. Others may become frightened and de-motivated. Stress, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem caused by harassment or bullying can lead to job insecurity, illness, absence from work, and even resignation. Almost always job performance is affected and relations in the workplace suffer.

Here are some examples of bullying/harassing behaviour although this list is not exhaustive:

  • spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour

  • ridiculing or demeaning someone - picking on them or setting them up to fail

  • exclusion or victimization

  • unfair treatment

  • overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position

  • unwelcome sexual advances - touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials

  • making threats or comments about job security without foundation

  • deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism

  • preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities.

Bullying and harassment are not restricted to face to face incidents - they may also occur in written communications, via email or by telephone or social media. Receiving feedback on your performance or being reasonably reprimanded for breach of policies or procedures is not bullying or harassment but a normal function of our organisation. 

It is our policy to prevent bullying and harassing behaviour. It is in our interests to make it clear to everyone that such behaviour will not be tolerated - the costs to the organisation may include poor employee relations, low morale, inefficiency, loss of productivity and potentially the loss of staff.

Bullying and harassment may be obvious, but sometimes people are unsure whether or not the way they are being treated is acceptable. If this applies to you there are a number of things to consider, including:

  • Has there been a change of management or organisational style to which you just need time to adjust - perhaps because you have a new manager or work requirements?

  • Can you talk over your worries with your Senior Manager, Human Resources Manager, your Line Manager/Supervisor, Union or Staff Representative or colleagues, who you may find share your concerns?

  • Can you agree changes to workload or ways of working that will make it easier for you to cope?

If you are sure you are being bullied or harassed, then there are a number of options to consider, and these are set out below. You should take any action you decide upon as quickly as possible.

  • Let your Union or Staff Representative know of the problem, or speak to the Human Resources Manager

  • Try to talk to colleagues to find out if anyone else is suffering, or if anyone has witnessed what has happened to you - avoid being alone with the bully.

  • Keep a diary of all incidents - records of dates, times, any witnesses, your feelings, etc. Keep copies of anything that is relevant, for example, letters, memos and/or notes of any meetings that relate to your ability to do your job. Bullying and harassment often reveal themselves through patterns of behaviour and frequency of incidents.

If you do decide to make a formal complaint, you should then follow our Grievance Procedure.

If there is good reason to suspect that you are bullying or harassing another member of staff, we reserve the right to suspend you from your duties with immediate effect, normally with pay, and, if evidence shows this to be the case, the Disciplinary Procedure will be invoked. Management will deal with your complaint in the manner explained in the flowchart.

Mar 2020

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