Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure

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1 Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure WHC reserves the right to amend this policy at its discretion. The most up-to-date version can be downloaded from our website. Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure ELT manager Responsible officer Principal HR Manager Date first approved by BoM December 2010 First Review Date October 2013 Date review approved by BoM Next review date Under Review The Board agrees that this policy will come to the Board meeting in December 2017 Equality impact assessment Further information (where relevant) Reviewer Date Review Action/Impact BoM

2 PREVENTION OF BULLYING AND HARASSMENT POLICY AND PROCEDURE Contents 1 Purpose 3 2 Principles 3 3 Scope 4 4 What is Bullying and Harassment? 5 5 Procedure 6 6 Appeals 9 7 Dealing with special situations 10 8 If grievance raised during a discrimination, bullying or harassment case 10 9 External sources of assistance Records Monitoring and Review 11 Page 2 of 11

3 Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure West Highland College UHI is committed to providing a working environment which is free from any type of discrimination, bullying or harassment so as to allow individual employees to achieve their fullest potential, thereby delivering a high quality student experience 1 Purpose The aim of the College is to ensure that if inappropriate behaviour of any sort does occur in the workplace it is dealt with in a serious, sensitive and confidential manner so that the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible for all concerned. This will enable employees from all backgrounds to have dignity at work, be respected as individuals, and allow them to progress and fully contribute to the successful delivery of the mission and objectives at the College. The College recognises that bullying or harassment of any kind generally means something that has happened to an employee that is unwelcome, unwarranted and causes a detrimental effect, and staff who believe they have been subjected to this should use this policy to stop this behaviour. The College wishes to promote an environment where employees feel able to bring complaints without fear of ridicule or reprisal and those who do will be protected from victimisation. This procedure has been complied in line with ACAS guidance. 2 Principles This procedure is designed to allow employees who believe they have been subject to discriminatory treatment, bullying or harassment to take action to stop it; It is hoped that the majority of complaints can be resolved through informal discussions as they are likely to achieve the quickest, most confidential and most effective solution; If informal action proves ineffective or if the bullying or harassment is of a very serious nature formal action can be taken. If a complaint is raised by an employee in writing, including , the College will deal with the matter formally rather than informally. Where the complainant is concerned about a formal approach being taken the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR or a Human Resources specialist will endeavour to meet with the complainant to explore the options and explain the rationale for the proposed way of dealing with the situation. The Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR also reserves the right to seek assistance from external facilitators, at any stage in this procedure, in the interest of reaching a satisfactory outcome for all concerned; The College recognises that in some instances the alleged harasser may not be a College employee. In such cases, appropriate action will be taken to protect the employee(s) concerned; An employee has the right to be accompanied at any formal meetings held under this procedure by a trade union representative or work colleague; An employee has the right of appeal against the outcome reached in regard to their complaint; Page 3 of 11

4 However, if an employee s complaint is considered, following investigation to be potentially malicious and to have been made in bad faith, then an investigation will be held in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure. If, as part of the operation of another procedure, e.g. Disciplinary or Performance Improvement, it is concluded by the manager hearing such a case that a manager may have pursued complaints against an employee for potentially malicious reasons and in bad faith, an investigation will be held into these concerns under the Disciplinary Procedure. 3 Scope 3.1 This procedure applies to all employees of West Highland College UHI. 3.2 However, this procedure does not normally apply when:- Reason for complaint relates to:- Issues other than bullying or harassment Appeal against disciplinary action taken Appeal against performance improvement action taken Complaint raised found to be malicious and in bad faith Alleged unlawful actions taking place in the College i.e. raising concern in compliance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act Procedure to be used Grievance Disciplinary Performance Improvement Disciplinary Whistleblowing 3.3 In situations where a complaint relates to several issues the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR reserves the right to decide how it should be best dealt with under the procedures available. Prior to making a final decision however, the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR or a Human Resources specialist will endeavour to meet with the complainant to explore the options and explain the rationale for the proposed way of dealing with the situation. 3.4 On occasions it will be appropriate to move to the Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Procedure from another procedure for example where a complaint that appears to be a grievance relating to something different is subsequently judged to be wholly or largely attributable to bullying or harassment of any kind. In such circumstances, action and support already undertaken or provided under the grievance procedure shall be taken into account in determining the appropriate level at which to enter this procedure. The same shall apply should an employee be referred from this Procedure to another one i.e. in the case of a malicious complaint being identified. Where the manager dealing with the case feels that it is appropriate to move to another procedure advice will be sought from Human Resources and the employee will be advised of the decision in writing. 3.5 This policy should be read in conjunction with the College Equality and Diversity Policy and Procedures and its Disability, Race and Gender Equality Schemes. Page 4 of 11

5 4 What is Bullying and Harassment? 4.1 Bullying Bullying is regarded as any behaviour, occasional or persistent, by anyone, which intimidates or oppresses another person, possibly through misuse of authority or power. It invariably has a negative effect on an employee s self confidence, selfesteem and general well-being. It can be subtle in nature and is intended to hurt. It can take place with work colleagues in public or in private, at work or socially Bullying may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion or belief, nationality or any personal characteristic of an individual, and may be persistent or an isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient Examples of bullying may include (although this is neither an exhaustive or exclusive list but is indicative of the types of behaviour):- shouting or swearing at an individual; persistent, excessive, unfair or unjustified criticism; public humiliation and/or insults; persistent undervaluing of a person s effort; constant ignoring of opinions; withholding information without justification so as to cause difficulty or embarrassment to an individual; unjustified, excessive monitoring and /or supervision; setting someone up to fail for example setting an objective that cannot be achieved; aggressive communications; intimidating or threatening behaviour 4.2 Harassment Every individual employee has the right to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect. Harassment occurs when someone engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating someone else s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It is not the intention of the harasser which defines whether a particular type of conduct is harassment but the effect it has on the recipient Harassment may be related to age, sex, race, disability, religion or belief, nationality or any personal characteristic of an individual, and may be persistent or an isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient Harassment can take many forms, below are some examples not an exhaustive list: any physical contact which is unwanted; coercion, isolation or freezing-out ; display of offensive material, e.g. pin-ups ; offensive jokes; Page 5 of 11

6 unwelcome remarks about a person s dress, appearance, disability, race or marital status; shouting at staff; personal insults; persistent criticism; setting impossible deadlines It is important to be aware that the question of whether or not behaviour constitutes harassment rests with the perception of the person on the receiving end of the behaviour. Friendly, welcome and reciprocated actions are fine, but great care should be taken when interacting with others to distinguish between behaviour that is viewed as welcome and behaviour that is unwanted and potentially offensive to another person Harassment can take the form of a single incident, if sufficiently serious. Alternatively, a series of relatively minor incidents or actions can be collectively viewed as harassment. The College s position is that no harassment (or bullying) of any kind should take place. 4.3 Bullying and Harassment are not necessarily face-to-face, they may take other forms such as written communications, , screen savers, jokes in the refectory, comments made to others. All employees should think before acting or speaking as what may be regarded as banter by some can cause offence to others. 5 Procedure 5.1 Informal Discussions Where possible, the employee should talk directly and informally to the person whom they believe has bullied or harassed them and explain clearly their objection to the other employee s actions or conduct. The employee should explain clearly what aspect of their colleague s behaviour is unacceptable, or is causing offence, and request that it should stop. It may be that the person whose conduct is causing offence is genuinely unaware that their behaviour is unwelcome or objectionable, and an informal discussion can lead to greater understanding and an agreement that the behaviour will cease If, as hoped, following informal discussions no further instances of discrimination, bullying or harassment occur the employee should deem the situation to have been resolved If the employee feels unable to approach the person whose action or conduct is causing offence, if they have already done so but to no avail, or if the complaint is one of very serious bullying or harassment, they may elect to raise a formal complaint (see section 5.2) Alternatively, the complaint can be raised informally with the HR Advisor/Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR, in which case they will try to assist the employee to find an informal solution to the problem by ways of mediation. Page 6 of 11

7 5.1.5 It is suggested that the employee keeps a diary of the alleged discrimination, bullying or harassment, recording:- what happened; when it happened; who witnessed the behaviour; how it made the employee feel This should help the employee express his/her concerns coherently at the informal stage and can also form the basis of evidence should the formal stage be required. The employee should also make a diary note of when and how they approached the alleged harasser. 5.2 Formal Action An employee may raise a complaint with Human Resources The complaint must identify the person who is alleged to have perpetrated discriminatory treatment, bullying or harassment, and give specific examples of the actions or conduct that the employee believes constitute discrimination, bullying or harassment. Specific incidents should be highlighted, with times and dates and the names of any witnesses if possible The alleged harasser will be informed in writing, within 5 working days, of receipt of the complaint about the exact nature of the complaint made against them. 5.3 Reorganisation/Relocation/Suspension from work It should be appreciated that before/during an investigation there may be a need to undertake some or all of the following, on a temporary basis:- reorganise work; amend reporting lines; relocate either the complainant or alleged harasser, or in some circumstances both; or take other action to avoid potential difficulties between the two parties concerned The Principal or member of the Senior Management Team (SMT) will, in the event of serious allegations of discrimination, bullying or harassment, also consider whether to suspend the alleged harasser in order to prevent any further contact between the parties until the matter can be fully dealt with Any period of suspension should be as short as possible, but this will depend on individual circumstances pertaining to a reasonable investigation being completed. The requirement for suspension will be kept under review to ensure it is not unnecessarily protracted It should be made clear to the employee accused of discrimination, bullying or harassment that the suspension is not a disciplinary action in itself and does not involve any prejudgement of the allegation(s). Page 7 of 11

8 5.3.5 Any period of suspension will be confirmed in writing by the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR, within five days An employee who is suspended under this Procedure will be entitled to full pay for the duration of the period of suspension. In this context full pay shall consist of the employee s normal salary, including elements such as shift allowances, unsocial hours payments and contractual overtime. 5.4 Investigation The College undertakes to investigate all complaints of discrimination, bullying or harassment objectively and confidentially. However, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in all occasions as it is dependant on the individual circumstances. An employee will be made aware if confidentiality cannot be maintained As soon as possible after a complaint is raised the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR will appoint an investigating officer to carry out a full investigation The investigating officer will conduct the investigation into the complaint with due respect for the rights of both the complainant and the alleged harasser. Both parties will be separately interviewed as soon as possible and granted the right, if they wish, to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague of their choice at their interview. In normal circumstances, they will be requested to sign a written statement following their interview The alleged harasser will be given a full and fair opportunity to state their side of events, and explain any conduct that forms the basis of the employee s complaint against them On completion of their investigation, the Investigating Officer will submit a report setting out the findings on the specific complaint(s) made by the employee. A copy of the report will be given to the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR and both the employee and the alleged harasser but will otherwise be kept confidential If there are parts of the investigating officer s report that contain statements from third parties (e.g. other employees) that would identify the third party in spite of their reasonable expectation to the contrary, these parties will not be included in the copies of the report supplied to the employee and the alleged harasser. 5.5 Outcome of investigation The outcome of the investigation into the employee s allegation(s) of discrimination, bullying or harassment may be either:- the complaint is well-founded and the alleged harasser of the discrimination, bullying or harassment is disciplined in line with the College s disciplinary procedure; standards for future conduct are set, which could involve training; some other appropriate intervention e.g. mediation. Page 8 of 11

9 the allegations made by the employee are not viewed as discrimination, bullying or harassment and no further action is taken. This will be confirmed in writing to the member of staff who the allegation was made against; the employee s grievance is considered, following investigation, to be potentially malicious and to have been made in bad faith, in which case an investigation will be held in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure. 5.6 Action following investigation If, following investigation, it is apparent that the complaint is well-founded, prompt action will be taken to remedy the discrimination or stop the bullying or harassment and prevent its recurrence The College regards all forms of harassment and bullying as misconduct, and any employee who is found to have been guilty of such behaviour will be liable to disciplinary action up to and including summary dismissal. Disciplinary action will also be taken against any employee who is found to have made a deliberately false and malicious complaint of discrimination, harassment or bullying The investigation carried out under this procedure shall be deemed to be sufficient for the purposes of the Disciplinary Procedure The complainant will be notified in writing of the outcome of the disciplinary process. If he/she is dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint he/she may appeal (see section 6.0 for further details) If the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR deems that further action is not warranted because the investigation has shown that discrimination, bullying or harassment has not taken place then he/she shall ask the relevant manager to invite the complainant to a meeting, where he/she has the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague of his/her choice, and explain the outcome of the investigation. He/she will also discuss measures to re-establish working relationships, including any support systems which need to be put in place and any other recommendations as he/she considers appropriate. Similarly, the relevant manager will then meet with the alleged harasser and discuss above issues Counselling or mediation may be particularly useful in some cases. Counselling may help resolve the issue or help support the person accused as well as the complainant (see section 9.0 for further details). 6 Appeals 6.1 A complainant may choose to appeal against the outcome of their complaint. 6.2 Written grounds explaining the reasons for any appeal must be submitted to the HR Director. 6.3 However, an employee cannot appeal against the level of disciplinary sanction imposed on another employee as a result of disciplinary action undertaken in light of their complaint. 6.4 If the employee wishes to appeal, this must be submitted in writing to the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR within five working days of the date of the Page 9 of 11

10 outcome letter. The employee will be advised that he or she has the right to be represented at the meeting by a trade union representative or colleague. The appeal shall be heard by a member of the College Management Team or Senior Executive Team, normally within ten working days of receipt of the appeal. The appeal chair decision shall be final. 7 Dealing with special situations 7.1 Trade Union Representatives An investigatory meeting involving a complaint made against an employee who is an accredited trade union representative shall not be convened until the circumstances have been discussed with a full-time official of the union concerned unless the individual wishes otherwise. Where the possibility of disciplinary action against an accredited representative arises the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR shall be consulted at the earliest opportunity. 7.2 Complaints against the Principal/Members of the Senior Executive Team In cases where a complaint is raised against a member of the Senior Management Team (SMT) this will be investigated by another member of the SMT in the first instance, with an appeal to the Principal In cases where a complaint is raised against the Principal this will be referred to the Chair of the Board of Governors who will determine, in discussion with the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR, the most appropriate way to consider the matter. 8 If grievance raised during a discrimination, bullying or harassment case If any party raises a grievance in respect of matters not related to or connected with the complaint being considered then the grievance will be considered under the Grievance Procedure but this will not normally be done until after conclusion of the Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Procedure. 9 External sources of assistance 9.1 At any stage, an employee making an allegation of bullying or harassment, or an employee accused of bullying or harassment, may need support, informed advice or counselling. They may seek professional counselling support which is available to all employees by contacting Human Resources. In addition, or alternatively, an employee may seek support from his/her Trade Union. 9.2 In certain circumstances it may, with mutual agreement, be helpful to seek external advice and assistance during this process. For instance, an external facilitator might be able to act as mediator to help resolve the problem. This intervention would be initiated by the Assistant Principal with responsibility for HR. Page 10 of 11

11 10 Records 10.1 All formal documentation relating to the formal stage of this Procedure will be held within Human Resources and in accordance with the College s Data Protection Policy Copies of meeting records will be given to the employee including copies of any formal minutes that may have been taken In certain circumstances (for example to protect a witness) the College may withhold some information. 11 Monitoring and Review 11.1 West Highland College UHI will monitor and review its Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Procedure to reflect College needs, experience and statutory obligations as necessary This policy will be reviewed no later than October Page 11 of 11

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