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Bullying and harassment

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and with respect, in line with the Company values.

Employees of the Company should expect and are entitled to work in an environment which is free from harassment, victimisation and bullying which may be because of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, employment status or other differences that cannot be justified.

Complaints of bullying or harassment will be dealt with promptly, fairly, confidentially and sensitively.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this procedure is to:

  • Ensure fair treatment and dignity of all employees at work
  • Prohibit all forms of bullying and harassment, whether amounting to unlawful disability, racial or sexual discrimination or not
  • Highlight the responsibilities of all employees to discourage bullying and harassment and prevent it from taking place
  • Encourage individuals to express their concerns if they feel that they are experiencing any form of bullying or harassment
  • Provide a process for dealing with any complaints of bullying or harassment promptly, fairly, confidentially and sensitively.

What is Bullying and Harassment?

Bullying and harassment can take many forms and there is no simple definition. However, it can consist of behaviour that is regarded as unwanted, offensive, intimidating, malicious, degrading or insulting, which causes an individual or group of individuals to feel upset, offended, embarrassed or threatened.

It can be unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour, which directly or indirectly affects the dignity of individuals in the workplace.

It may be related to race, disability, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, health, marital status, employment status, membership or non-membership of a trade union, nationality or social class.

It may be persistent unwanted behaviour or an isolated incident.

It must be recognised that individuals have different levels of sensitivity and it is up to the recipient to decide whether they are experiencing behaviours that are unacceptable to them. The same behaviours may not necessarily be found to be offensive by someone else in the same circumstances.

It is important to remember that bullying and harassment are defined in terms of the effect of the behaviour on the recipient. They are not defined by the intention of the perpetrator.

Examples of bullying and harassment behaviour

Bullying and harassment can take many forms of which some examples are given below:

  • Persistent criticism, personal abuse or ridicule, which humiliates or demeans the individual involved,
  • Setting unrealistic objectives and deadlines, withholding necessary information, repeatedly undervaluing effort,
  • Unwanted verbal conduct such as unwelcome advances, patronising titles or nicknames, propositions or remarks, innuendoes, insensitive jokes, offensive banter or abusive language that directly or indirectly offends an individual,
  • Unwanted physical conduct such as unnecessary touching, patting, pinching, brushing against another person’s body, insulting or abusive behaviour or gestures, physical threats or assault,
  • Unwanted non-verbal conduct such as abusive or offensive graffiti or gestures, leering, whistling, displaying pornographic pictures or suggestive literature,
  • Sending unwanted abusive, offensive or malicious written e-mails or attachments.

Bullying and harassment can take many forms and this list is not exhaustive. Bullying and harassment may consist of a single act or a series of acts.

Responsibilities

It is essential that the working environment actively supports respectful and harmonious working relationships. Everybody has an individual responsibility to discourage bullying and harassment and prevent it from taking place. All employees should:

  • Understand the problems that bullying and harassment in all its forms can cause,
  • Ensure that they behave in line with the Company’s values ensuring that their behaviour towards their colleagues is unlikely to be regarded as that of a bullying or harassing nature,
  • Inform their colleagues if certain behaviour is causing concern or offence to themselves (or other colleagues) and that it should cease immediately.

More specifically, managers, supervisors and team leaders have particular responsibilities to prevent bullying and harassment by:

  • Using their judgment in correcting standards of behaviour that could be regarded as bullying or harassment and reminding employees of the Company’s procedure in this matter,
  • Being alert to the possibility that bullying and harassment may be occurring in their area,
  • Encouraging individuals who may be subject to bullying and harassment to express their concerns rather than suppress them,
  • Taking prompt action to stop bullying and harassment as soon as it is identified,
  • Dealing with all incidents seriously, sensitively and confidentially.

Grievance Procedure

An employee who feels that they have been harassed, bullied or treated in a way that breaches this procedure should refer to ‘Managing complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying’ in the Grievance Procedure.

The aim of this procedure is to stop the unwanted behaviour(s) and to prevent recurrence. Complaints should be made as soon as possible after the incident(s) occurred.

Where appropriate, every effort will be made to resolve the situation informally.

If the informal procedure fails to resolve the problem(s) or is not appropriate in the circumstances, then employees have the right to invoke Stage One of the Company’s formal Grievance Procedure.

Confidentiality

All complaints and associated correspondence and interviews must be treated in strict confidence. Minutes of any meeting/interview will be prepared by the company and remain confidential. Breaches of confidentiality will be dealt with using the Disciplinary procedure.

Disciplinary Procedure

Single offences, which amount to a serious breach of this policy, or repeated offences may result in dismissal, summary dismissal or other disciplinary action under the Company's Disciplinary procedure.

Management may relocate employees should it be considered necessary. The objective will be to relocate the harasser(s) and not the complainant(s).

Harassers, their supervisors and managers may be held personally liable in the event of any legal proceedings.

Allegations which are proven to be malicious will be regarded as disciplinary offences.