Harassment and bullying

What is it?

Harassment is behaviour that offends the dignity of another person, for example by offensive remarks. It may relate to race, sex, disability or other protected characteristic (see Equal Opportunity policy) of an individual. Bullying is harassment in situations where we influence others. Inappropriate language in giving an instruction or making a criticism would be an example. Swearing in such circumstances is not acceptable. You can also complain of harassment if you are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic and even if the harassment is not directed at you.

We recognise that complaints of personal harassment, and particularly of sexual harassment, can sometimes be of a sensitive or intimate nature and that it may not be appropriate for you to raise the issue through our normal grievance procedure. In these circumstances you are encouraged to raise such issues with a senior person of your choice (whether or not that person has a direct supervisory responsibility for you) as a confidential helper and your confidential helper can assist you in this.

If you are the victim of minor harassment or bullying you should make it clear to the harasser or bully on an informal basis that their behaviour is unwelcome and ask them to stop. If you feel unable to do this verbally then you should hand a written request to the harasser or bully. If you feel uncomfortable with this please discuss the matter with your line manager.

Formal complaint

Where the informal approach fails or if the harassment or bullying is more serious, you should bring the matter to the attention of the Managing Director as a formal written complaint and a confidential helper can assist you in this. If possible, you should keep notes of the harassment so that the written complaint can include:

  • the name of the alleged harasser/bully
  • the nature of the alleged harassment/bullying
  • the dates and times when the alleged harassment/bullying occurred
  • the names of any witnesses.

On receipt of a formal complaint we will take action to separate you from the alleged harasser or bully to enable an uninterrupted investigation to take place. This may involve a temporary transfer of the alleged harasser or bully to another work area or suspension with pay until the matter has been resolved.

It must be appreciated that such issues often give rise to conflicting evidence, meaning that it can be difficult to get to the truth of the matter. Though complaints will be treated in good faith there is nevertheless risk in bringing a complaint of harassment or bullying.

Investigation

You must understand that the person against whom you are raising a complaint has rights also. They have a right to know about the allegations against them and the right to offer explanations. In practice, this will not be possible without revealing who has made the allegations.

The person dealing with the complaint will carry out a thorough investigation. Those involved in the investigation will be required to act in confidence and any breach of confidence will be a disciplinary matter.

When the investigation has been concluded, a draft report of the findings and of the proposed decision will be sent, in writing, to you and to the alleged harasser or bully.

If you or the alleged harasser or bully is dissatisfied with the draft report or with the proposed decision this should be raised with the investigator within five working days of receiving the draft. The investigator will consider any points of concern before a final report is sent, in writing, to you and to the alleged harasser or bully.

Action

If the report concludes that the allegation is well founded, the harasser or bully will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with our disciplinary procedure. An employee who receives a formal warning or who is dismissed for harassment may appeal against the disciplinary action by using our disciplinary appeal procedure.

Similarly, if the report concludes that the complaint was unfounded and the complainant disagrees they may appeal by using the grievance procedure, commencing at the stage of a “Grievance meeting” where the complaint has to be put in writing.

If you bring a complaint of harassment you will not be victimised for having brought the complaint. However if the report concludes that the complaint is both untrue and has been brought with malicious and/or vexatious intent, disciplinary action may be taken against you.

This policy was last reviewed in November 2018