Anti-harassment and bullying policy

We deplore all forms of discrimination, including harassment and bullying, and are committed to creating a work environment free of harassment and bullying, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

The terms harassment and bullying are typically used interchangeably in the everyday context, but they have very different meanings in law. For the purposes of this policy the term harassment will be used to mean both bullying behaviour and harassment.

Harassment is any form of unwanted conduct which occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient.

The intention behind the conduct is irrelevant and it may be related to any personal characteristic of the individual, may be persistent or an isolated incident and can include physical actions, verbal, non-verbal and written communication, including email and social media.

It should be borne in mind that an employee who harasses another person may be personally liable for damages if the victim makes a complaint of harassment because of a protected characteristic (gender, race, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, and transgender) to an Employment Tribunal, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

It is important to remember that each individual will have their own view of what they consider to be acceptable behaviour at work. What may be acceptable to one person will be offensive, and potentially bullying and harassing, to another. Therefore, it is not possible to give a comprehensive list of unacceptable behaviour and we must all be aware of, and respectful, of each other’s boundaries.

An individual can complain of harassment even if it is not directed at them. For example, a person may feel harassed by racist jokes about a different ethnic group if those jokes create an offensive working environment for them.

Bullying is characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Harassment and bullying are totally unacceptable at any time and this policy, and the principles within it, applies to the working environment, organised work events, informal social events and also to harassing and bullying behaviour carried out in or outside of working hours using any form of social media.

Examples of harassment include:

The examples above are not exhaustive. Some are obvious examples of gross misconduct, punishable by summary dismissal, but other items may well constitute gross misconduct, depending on the circumstances of the case.

A single incident can be harassment if it is sufficiently serious.

If you think you are being bullied or harassed, you may be able to sort out matters informally. The person may not know that his or her behaviour is unwelcome or upsetting. You may feel able to approach the person yourself, or with the help of someone else at the Company. You should tell the person what behaviour you find offensive and unwelcome, and say that you would like it to stop immediately.

If an informal approach does not resolve matters, or you think the situation is too serious to be dealt with informally, complaints of harassment or bullying should be made to your manager. The matter will be dealt with in a discreet and confidential manner and appropriate action will be taken.

It is the duty of all employees and, in particular management, to ensure that the anti-harassment policy is implemented. Harassment or bullying will be taken to have occurred if a reasonable individual would or ought to have known that the behaviour was unwelcome or offensive.

In dealing with reports of harassment or bullying, the following principles will apply:

Harassment and bullying are disciplinary offences that can, in the most serious cases, result in dismissal. Individuals should be aware that in some circumstances they might be held personally liable for acts that are unlawful.

Your responsibilities as an employee

We require the proactive assistance of all of our employees to ensure that our working environment is free from harassment and everyone is treated with dignity and respect. You are required to:

Your responsibilities as a manager

As a manager you are required to lead by example, prevent harassment at work and to deal promptly and sensitively with any complaints of harassment.

Although dealing positively with complaints is sound management practice, the emphasis must be placed firmly on prevention, rather than cure. In reality many people will raise a complaint only as a last resort, once the problem has escalated out of control. Others will not raise a complaint at all for fear of victimisation, isolation, embarrassment or ridicule.

You should, therefore, be observant and perceptive to the range of behaviour that takes place between employees. Any suspicions or doubts should be raised privately with the person concerned in order to prevent the problem from escalating.