DIGNITY AT WORK GUIDELINES FOR EMPLOYEES

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1 DIGNITY AT WORK GUIDELINES FOR EMPLOYEES Hull City Council Human Resources Implementation Date: 2 nd January 2007

2 DIGNITY AT WORK GUIDELINES FOR EMPLOYEES INTRODUCTION 1. These guidelines have been compiled both to help employees make complaints of harassment or bullying and cope if such a complaint is made against them under the Council s Dignity at Work Policy. 2. They should be read in conjunction with the Policy and associated procedure. LEGISLATION 3. Employees should be aware that there is legislation covering harassment and also bullying where this could be classed as harassment or discrimination. As an employer, the Council has a responsibility to take action to prevent harassment and bullying. This includes taking action where necessary against alleged perpetrators of harassment and bullying. 4. However, employees should also be aware that, under this legislation, should they commit harassment or bullying, they may also be liable to individual prosecution. Cases have been taken to Employment Tribunals which have succeeded against both employers and individual employees. 5. Employees can contribute towards preventing complaints of harassment and bullying by: ensuring at all times that their own behaviour cannot be construed as harassment or bullying. being aware of the problems which harassment and bullying cause, and by making sure that they do not harass or bully colleagues. making their fellow workers aware that certain conduct or behaviour is causing concern or offence to either themselves or others. providing support to the person who is being harassed or bullied. IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE BEING HARASSED OR BULLIED 6. If you feel you are being harassed or bullied there are a number of things you can do, informally and/or formally. 7. If you feel you are being unfairly treated within one of the Council s procedures you must use the right of appeal within that procedure, e.g. Discipline, Sickness. 8. You should keep a record of events as they happen.

3 9. You can try to resolve the situation outside of the Dignity at Work Procedure by: approaching the person harassing or bullying you yourself explain that their behaviour is unacceptable to you ask them to stop refer them to the Dignity at Work Policy keep a note of this approach if you feel unable to talk to the person, you could write to them, keeping a copy of your letter ask someone else to approach the person on your behalf talk to a work colleague, Welfare Advisor, Human Resources Advisor, Trade Union Representative etc get them to speak to the person on your behalf keep a note of this approach and the outcome 10. If this fails, or is not appropriate, make an initial complaint to your manager, his or her manager or a Human Resources Advisor in the Employee Relations Team. They will listen to you and discuss the options available. They will try to resolve the matter informally (unless the nature and seriousness of your complaint make informal action inappropriate), but the employee you have complained about will normally have to be told about the complaint. This is because where a complaint identifies illegal discrimination or a criminal act, the Council has a legal duty to take appropriate action. 11. If it is not possible or appropriate to resolve your complaint informally, you can submit a complaint for formal resolution, to the Head of Workforce Strategy, using a Dignity at Work Complaint form, a copy of which is attached to the procedure. You must also be prepared to make a written statement and, if appropriate, nominate witnesses. 12. Before a complaint is progressed formally, the Human Resources Employee Relations Team will review the case to ensure that there does appear to be substance to it and warrants formal investigation. 13. If the Employee Relations Team advise that a formal investigation is not appropriate, you may be offered mediation. This will be through an independent outside mediator. 14. Mediation is when an impartial third party - a mediator- helps two or more people resolve their difficulties in a way which respects their individual rights and needs. The aim is to find a mutually agreed solution to problems. 15. If a formal investigation is warranted, the case will be investigated by a Human Resources Advisor from the Employee Relations Team and a manager from your Service Area. The Human Resources Advisor will not previously have been involved in the case. The investigation will follow the Dignity at Work Procedure. 16. Support will be available to you at any stage of the procedure. This can be available from Human Resources- through Human Resources Advisors, the

4 Occupational Health and Safety Team, including the Welfare Advisor, and the Council s independent counselling service - and also from your Trade Union representatives. 17. If circumstances are such that you feel unable to continue working in your normal workplace whilst any investigation is taking place, you or your representative may request a temporary move. IF YOU ARE ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT/BULLYING 18. If someone believes that you are harassing or bullying them, they may take informal or formal action against you. In either case, you will be given details of the complaint and an opportunity to respond. The Council recognises that complaints can be stressful for those accused of harassment or bullying. 19. Advice and support is available to you from Human Resources - through Human Resources Advisors, the Occupational Health and Safety Team, including the Welfare Advisor, and the Council s independent counselling service - and from your Trade Union representatives. This is available throughout the procedure, including support once the outcome of the allegations is known. 20. If an initial complaint is made, look at the behaviour in question and ask yourself why the complaint has been made and whether someone could perceive your behaviour as harassment/bullying. Your response to the allegations will be conveyed to the complainant. If the complainant feels your response is such that the matter can be resolved informally, a way forward will be agreed with you. 19. If the complaint cannot be resolved informally and a complaint for formal resolution is submitted, the case will be reviewed by the Human Resources Employee Relations Team. This is to ensure that there does appear to be substance to it and it warrants formal investigation. 20. If the Employee Relations Team feel that a formal investigation is not appropriate, the complainant may be offered mediation. You will be expected to cooperate in this if this is accepted. 21. If a formal investigation is warranted, the Dignity at Work Procedure will be followed. 22. You must be prepared to make a written statement and, if appropriate, nominate witnesses. THROUGHOUT THE PROCEDURE: 23. Both parties can be accompanied by a Trade Union representative or work colleague. 24. All parties must treat the matter with the utmost confidentiality. 25. Both parties will be treated fairly.

5 26. Both parties can have a member of the same sex carrying out the investigation. 27. If the circumstances warrant it, disciplinary action will be taken against the alleged harasser. 28. There will be no victimisation of the person making the complaint, or any witnesses involved. 29. If the allegations are substantiated, any subsequent action will not be detrimental to the person making the complaint, for example, an unwelcome transfer to other work. FRIVOLOUS/MALICIOUS COMPLAINTS 30. The Council takes complaints of harassment and bullying seriously and expects employees to do the same. It recognises that the vast majority of complaints are made in good faith. However, you need to be aware that, should it become apparent that a complaint has been made frivolously or maliciously, consideration will be given as to whether disciplinary action needs to be taken against the person making the complaint. RIGHT OF APPEAL 31. Both the complainant and the alleged harasser have a right of appeal if he/she considers: the process of the investigation to be technically flawed and, therefore, unfair; and/or the conclusion(s) and/or recommendation(s) to be unreasonable either because they are not supported by the report or because the investigation was technically flawed. 32. The purpose of the appeal will be to consider whether the process of the investigation was fair and/or whether the conclusion(s) and/or recommendation(s) were reasonable. The purpose is not to reinvestigate the complaint. 33. The appeal must be submitted to the Head of Workforce Strategy on a standard Dignity at Work Appeal Form within 10 working days of the date of the receipt of the investigation report

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