Staff Harassment and Bullying Policy
1.1 Westminster Kingsway College recognises that harassment can cause a threatening or intimidating work environment which can adversely affect an employee’s job performance, health and well being, promotion, job prospects, and ultimately the success of the College. Harassment is a serious problem, which has often been dismissed as individuals being over sensitive. It may also be unlawful. Harassment is unacceptable in the College, whether or not it is unlawful (relevant legislation is listed in appendix 1).
1.2 It is the right of every member of staff and student to work or study without fear of harassment or victimisation. The College and Recognised Trade Unions recognise the problems associated with harassment and are committed to providing an environment in which all individuals can operate effectively, confidently and competently.
2 WHAT IS HARASSMENT?
2.1 There is not and probably cannot be a single simple definition. This is because harassment takes many forms, occurs on a variety of grounds and may be directed at an individual or a group. It is the deed itself and the impact on the recipient, regardless of the intention, which determines what constitutes harassment e.g. staff under stress may adopt a style which others find harassing. Harassment is defined as any conduct which is unwanted, unwarranted and unreciprocated by the recipient, or any such conduct which affects the dignity of any individual, or group of individuals at work. Harassment may be repetitive, or an isolated occurrence against one or more individuals. (check legal definition)
2.2 Harassment is often a display and abuse of perceived power directed from one person to another. Staff being harassed may not feel that they can raise this formally if they feel that their job security is threatened or they may feel embarrassed if such harassment is not taken seriously by their employer. Those being harassed are often made to feel that they are to blame.
2.3 Harassment can damage health, causing anxiety, tension, depression, deterioration of personal relationships, hostility, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, fatigue, headaches and other signs of stress at work.
2.4 It is the duty of every member of staff and those visiting the College premises, to take responsibility for their behaviour and modify it if necessary, as harassment is not acceptable under any circumstances. In the event of a failure to do so, disciplinary action in accordance with the College’s disciplinary procedure may be a consequence and, should the person who has been harassed pursue legal remedies, the individual may be held by a Court or Tribunal to be personally liable. Managers are required to ensure that the policy is effectively and equitably applied and that harassment does not occur. The College will ensure that this policy is widely publicised and its contents made known to all staff, students, contractors and visitors.
3 Harassment and Bullying
Harassment may take one of the following forms:
Physical: gestures, intimidation, aggressive behaviour, physical contact or assault
Verbal: unwelcome remarks, suggestions and propositions, malicious gossip, jokes and banter
Non-verbal: offensive literature/written communications or pictures, graffiti and computer imagery, isolation or non co-operation and exclusion from social activities
Bullying can be defined as persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, abuse of power or unfair penal sanctions which make the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable, which undermines their self-confidence and which may cause them to suffer stress. A non-exhaustive list of specific forms of harassment and bullying is listed in appendix 2.
4.1 The College
4.1.1 Westminster Kingsway College recognises the serious effects which harassment can have on the working lives of employees. The College has a responsibility to ensure that any allegation of harassment or bullying is investigated and, if the investigation into the alleged harassment finds that an employee has been harassed, that action is taken to immediately stop the harassment and prevent its recurrence.
4.2.1 Managers must ensure that they and staff under their jurisdiction discourage and eliminate harassment at work
4.2.2 Managers have a specific responsibility to exercise their managerial responsibilities,
including the implementation of policies and procedures in a way that does not itself
4.3 All Staff
4.3.1 It is the responsibility of every member of staff to ensure that they act within the spirit of this policy at all times.
5.1 Training will be provided, as appropriate, to all staff as part of the induction process. Specific training will also be provided for managers to ensure they gain the knowledge, skills and awareness necessary to operate the Colleges’ policy and relevant legislation efficiently and effectively and to communicate this to their staff and students.
6 DEALING WITH ISSUES OF HARASSMENT
6.1 The College views harassment very seriously and all reported incidents of harassment will be investigated and dealt with as appropriate under the disciplinary procedure.
6.2 If you feel you are being harassed the College would encourage you to raise the matter with either a manager or a member of the Human Resources Department.
6.3 Initially you may wish to speak to the person concerned directly to ask them to stop and though this option is available to you the College would always encourage you to raise the matter as detailed in the paragraph above.
6.4 The managers empowered to investigate a complaint should not be directly involved in the complaint or the presentation of evidence regarding the complaint.
6.5 Employees will be protected from intimidation, victimisation, detriment or discrimination as a result of filing a complaint or assisting in an investigation. Any such behaviour directed towards an employee who has made a complaint or is assisting in an investigation will, in itself, be a disciplinary offence.
7 COUNSELLING AND SUPPORT
7.1 Independent and confidential counselling will be made available to anyone involved in an allegation of harassment. This can be accessed by contacting the Human Resources Department.
7.2 There are also several independent bodies that may be accessed for advice. A list of these is attached as Appendix 3.
7.3 All complaints will be centrally monitored by the Human Resources Department to ensure they are dealt with fairly and consistently. In addition a six monthly review of complaints will be considered by the Senior Management Team
7.4 Anyone with any concerns about this issue should contact the Human Resources Department
LEGISLATION RELEVANT IN HARASSMENT AND BULLYING CASES
Sex Discrimination Acts 1975 and 1986
Race Relations Act 1976
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Employment Rights Act 1996
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
EC Resolution 1990 on the protection of dignity of women and men at work: A code of practice on
measures to combat sexual harassment.
Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999
Human rights Act 1998
EXAMPLES OF HARASSMENT
The following are examples of harassment but should not be considered as a definitive list. The ultimate question that has to be asked is, whether the individual has been treated in an unjustified, detrimental way.
Sexually orientated jibes or abuse, unwelcome comments about dress or appearance, the display of pin-ups or pornographic pictures or graffiti, or sexually suggestive objects, unwanted physical contact, sexual assault or demands for sexual favours.
Racially derogatory remarks or racist ‘jokes’, the display of racially offensive written or visual materials e.g. graffiti or swastikas; gestures; abusive or insulting behaviour; threats of physical violence and assault.
Ridiculing or demeaning behaviour, the display of offensive written or visual materials or gestures focused at people because of their age and experiences.
Harassment against people with disabilities
Undignified treatment, demeaning behaviour or ridicule or exclusion of people because of their disability, vulnerability, or actual or perceived restricted independence.
Harassment on the basis of sexual orientation
Behaviour which condemns or ridicules people or seeks to exclude because of their sexual preferences. This could include visual displays and graffiti.
Behaviour which fails to tolerate or acknowledge the rights or needs of people with different religious beliefs and practices.
Behaviour which condemns or ridicules people because of their social background.
Trade union officials
Behaviour which condemns or ridicules people because of their relationship to trade unions
Harassment as an abuse of power or authority
Including all forms of bullying, threatening and oppressive behaviour as a result of being in a position of power or authority e.g. a line manager
In addition to the examples of unacceptable behaviour above, particular kinds of behaviour by staff which may create undue stress and which are to be avoided include:
Being excessively demanding
Showing partiality/less favourable treatment
Denying reasonable requests
Withholding pertinent information
Being overly familiar
Failing to maintain confidentiality