Bullying And Harassment

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As an employer you are responsible for your staff and in taking reasonable steps to prevent such behaviour


  • 1.Bullying and harassment Table of contents Bullying and harassment2 Introduction 2 What is meant by bullying and harassment?3 Why does bullying and harassment occur?4 The impact of bullying and harassment4 Recognising bullying or harassment 5 Preventing bullying and harassment 6 Drawing up an anti-bullying and harassment policy 6 Dealing with bullying and harassment claims7 Here's how I developed an anti bullying and harassment policy8 Helplines9 Related guides on businesslink.gov.uk9 Related web sites you might find useful9 Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 You can personalise content from the Business Link website and download it in PDF format. This is a free service Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 1
2. Bullying and harassment Subjects covered in this guide Introduction Introduction Bullying and harassment in a workplace are What is meant by bullying and harassment? serious matters, and employers are responsible for taking reasonable steps to Why does bullying and harassment occur? prevent such behaviour.The impact of bullying and harassment The anti-discrimination legislation makes it unlawful in employment or vocational Recognising bullying or harassment training to harass someone on the grounds Preventing bullying and harassmentof:Drawing up an anti-bullying and harassment • sex policy • marital status• gender reassignment Dealing with bullying and harassment claims• race• disability Here's how I developed an anti bullying and• religion/belief harassment policy• sexual orientation• age HelplinesRelated guides on businesslink.gov.uk The Sex Discrimination Act also explicitly outlaws sexual harassment. Related web sites you might find useful Bullying and harassment are unacceptable on moral grounds and may, if they are allowed to go unchecked or are badly handled, create serious problems for your You can find this guide by navigating to: business. Harassment is also against the law and can result in an employment Home > Employing people > Disciplinarytribunal or other civil claims against the problems, disputes and grievances > employer and large awards in Bullying and harassment compensation.Bullying and harassment can also have a bad effect on your business in other ways, including poor performance, low staff morale and poor employee relations, loss of respect for management, increase in absence, higher staff turnover and damage to your business' reputation. What is meant by bullying and Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 2 3. Bullying and harassment Harassment is defined as any unwanted harassment? conduct on the grounds of race, age, etc that has the purpose or effect of: Harassment - in relation to employment - has a legal definition, but bullying does not.• violating the dignity of an individual Bullying • creating an intimidating, hostile,degrading, humiliating or offensive There is no single legal definition of bullying, atmosphere for an individual but it can include: The definition of harassment in relation to• offensive or insulting behaviour bysex is slightly broader - an employee cananother employee which makes anclaim harassment even if the harassmentindividual feel threatened, or taken was not actually directed at them, eg whereadvantage of a female worker overhears a female• humiliation of an employee colleague being verbally harassed by a male• less obvious ways of making an colleague and it violates their dignity.employee feel frightened ordemoralisedIt is also important to note that, while sexual harassment is commonly committed by a Some common forms of bullying are:man against a woman, it can also be committed by a woman against a man, by a man against another man or by a woman• verbal abuse - eg persistent taunting against another woman.• physical violence or violent gestures• public humiliation of an employee Sexual harassment is defined as any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical However, bullying can be more subtle, such conduct of a sexual nature that has the as: purpose or effect of: • giving someone an impossible• violating an individual's dignitydeadline• creating an intimidating, hostile,• removing an employee'sdegrading, humiliating or offensiveresponsibilities and giving them moreenvironment for an individualmenial tasks• withholding information or givingfalse informationIt can also occur when an individual rejects the unwanted conduct mentioned above Harassmentand, as a result, is treated unfairly.Harassment on the grounds of sex, marital You can read a factsheet on harassment status, gender reassignment, race,and the sex discrimination legislation on disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and age, along with sexual harassment, is website - Opens in a new window. explicitly prohibited in employment and vocational training.Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 3 4. Bullying and harassment• a rigid style of management Examples of harassment include:• lack of procedure for resolvingproblems• embarrassing or otherwise offensivejokesIf bullying and/or harassment is a problem in• unwelcome physical contact oryour workplace, try to find out why it'ssexual advanceshappening before taking action.• the expression of racist, homophobic,etc views• lewd comments and innuendo For example, if a number of employees• the sending of offensive emails, texthave started to complain of being on themessages, etcreceiving end of sexist jokes, it may be that• displays of pornographic materialthere is a culture of sexist banter in your workplace. If so, you could: It is possible that some incidents of harassment may not be covered by the • take informal disciplinary action anti-discrimination legislation. However, if anagainst those telling the jokes, eg employer fails to deal with any form ofverbal or written warnings harassment, the victim could resign and• remind all your staff about your claim constructive dismissal. See the page bullying/harassment policy, eg that in this guide on the impact of bullying andbullying and harassing colleagues is harassment.a serious disciplinary matter It is good practice for employers to have a See the page in this guide on dealing with bullying and harassment policy giving bullying and harassment claims. written examples of what is unacceptable behaviour in their organisation. See the page in this guide on drawing up an The impact of bullying and anti-bullying and harassment policy.harassment Employers should be aware of the potential Why does bullying and legal implications of bullying and harassment in the workplace. harassment occur? Bullying and harassment may occur Harassment of an employee can amount to: because of underlying problems in the workplace such as: • unlawful discrimination on thegrounds of race, sex, marital status,• poor job design and workgender reassignment, disability,relationships religion/belief, sexual orientation or• lack of accountabilityage• the existence of a particular culture • a breach of contract, ie a breach ofat work one of the implied terms of any• an over-competitive environment employment contract, such as the• fear of redundancyduty to provide a safe workingBullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007Page 4 5. Bullying and harassmentenvironment or to maintain trust andconfidence in the employer Bullying and harassment can often be hard• a criminal offence for employers to recognise, particularly as it may not be obvious to colleagues of the person being bullied or harassed. You could be liable for the actions of your employees unless you have taken reasonable steps to prevent bullying or This may be because: harassment. Action could still also be taken against you even after a person has left your• the harassment or bullying is done in employment. You could even be responsiblesubtle ways for the actions of third parties, eg clients or• staff may think it's part of the 'culture' customers, where they are within yourof the workplace control. An individual may also be too frightened to You could also be held liable for harassmentreport an incident. if you fail to prevent a third party, eg a customer, repeatedly harassing an A good employer should be aware of this, employee. Note that the harasser does not and keep an eye out for some of the have to be the same person on eachpossible signs of bullying and harassment. occasion. Signs may include: See our guide on how to prevent discrimination and value diversity.• absenteeism - if this is morefrequent, or for longer periods than Bullying and harassment can also have ausual serious adverse effect on the success of the • high staff turnover - especially if it business leading to reduced productivity and occurs in a particular section or profits. This is because bullying andwhere staff work for a particular harassment can cause:manager• stress symptoms - including fatigue,• low morale and poor employeeanxiety, depression, immune systemrelations suppression, aches, pains,• loss of respect for managersnumbness and panic attacks• reduced productivity and profits• a change in an individual's behaviour• increased absenteeism and turnoveror performance at workof staff• damage to the image of the businessBullying and harassment may be carried out• employment tribunal or other civil face-to-face. However, it may be done incourt claims - see our guide onmore underhand ways, such as:handling employment tribunalclaims• by letter• electronically, by email Recognising bullying or• by phone• at work-related social functions harassment Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007Page 5 6. Bullying and harassment• You keep note of complaints so you See our guide on how to manage absence can detect any patterns of and sickness.inappropriate behaviour. Rememberthat an absence of any complaintsdoes not necessarily mean that Preventing bullying andbullying and harassment is not going harassment on.• You review the policy from time to Employers are responsible for preventing time to make sure it's working bullying and harassment, so it is in yourproperly. interest to have a policy to avoid it and put procedures in place to implement the policy. See the page in this guide on drawing upDrawing up an anti-bullying and an anti-bullying and harassment policy. harassment policy It is your responsibility to make sure that any Ideally you should draw up a bullying and policy has been properly implemented, isharassment policy in consultation with staff understood by staff and is being used and and/or their representatives. monitored properly. If a tribunal believes that all reasonable steps have been taken by the For example, trade unions may help you as employer to prevent bullying andthey may well have experience in handling harassment, it may escape liability.bullying and harassment cases.You should make sure that: Your policy on bullying and harassment• All the management team are seen could include:to be fully committed to the policy.• You identify who is in overall charge,• An explanation of what the termsand in day-to-day charge, ofmean and that harassment covers allimplementing the policy.the areas protected by• You have set aside time to trainanti-discrimination laws. See ourthose in charge on theirguide on how to preventresponsibilities. discrimination and value diversity.• The policy covers all the areas • Examples of behaviour that could becovered by anti-discrimination law. considered bullying and harassment.See our guide on how to prevent • A statement that bullying anddiscrimination and value diversity. harassment will not be tolerated, and• The policy is linked to other could result in the bully or harasserdisciplinary and grievancebeing subjected to disciplinary action,procedures and any appraisalwhich may result in dismissal.system for managers.• A statement pointing out that bullying• You use all appropriate ways to and harassment will not be toleratedadvertise the policies to yourat work-related events, eg Christmasworkforce including any induction parties, training courses - even ifprocess.they are away from the normalBullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 6 7. Bullying and harassmentworkplace.• Details of the procedures to beissuing a policy that:followed if bullying and/orharassment occurs, including both • encourages victims of bullying orinformal and formal approaches andharassment to come forward, in arelevant timescales that should beway that provides a way to bypasslinked to your discipline and the bully or harassergrievance procedures. • combines an informal route to• Assurance that any complaint will becomplain within a formal proceduretaken seriously, treated confidentially to be used when the matter cannotand that employees making be resolved informally and balancescomplaints will be protected from the interests of the victim and theretaliation.alleged bully/harasser• Assurance that a thorough and fair• tells staff and trains managers as toinvestigation of a claim will takewhat they should do if they becomeplace.aware of someone being bullied or• A statement that there will be a rightharassed - see the page in this guideof appeal.on drawing up an anti bullying and• Sources of guidance and support.harassment policyYou should also include:Bear in mind that a claim could be malicious - to investigate it thoroughly and fairly you• the name of the person the employeeshould:should contact if they are beingbullied or harassed • if possible use an impartial, trained• an alternative name in case thisinvestigatorperson is unsuitable, for example • consider suspension of the allegedbecause they are the employee's bully or harasser on full pay while themanager investigation is carried out• allow both parties to be accompanied Read a draft bullying and harassment to a hearing by a representative of policy agreement on the UNISON website their choice - Opens in a new window. • make it clear that both parties havethe right of appealDealing with bullying and When you are dealing with a case of bullying and harassment, decide carefully harassment claims what action you are going to take - whether You should take bullying or harassmentagainst the complainant or bully/harasser. complaints seriously as you can be held This could be: liable for harassment suffered by your employees at work or at work-related • counselling or training events. Therefore, you should know, and• an informal or formal warning make known to your employees, what • suspension approach you will take, for example, by• transfer - only the guilty party shouldBullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007Page 7 8. Bullying and harassmentbe transferred Recognise the need for a formal policy• dismissal "We recently reviewed all our policies, to Trade unions may have a role in cases ofmake sure we were legally up to speed and bullying and harassment. They can provide:to reflect the growth of the business. We also wanted to build on our culture of• support for claims openness and good communication.• guidance and support for thecomplainant or the alleged bully or"One area that hadn't been properlyharasser addressed was bullying and harassment.• accompaniment to hearingsThe management team decided to develop• help in eliminating a bullying culture a formal bullying and harassment policy, not because we had a problem in that area, but because we wanted staff to know where Here's how I developed an antithey stood." bullying and harassment policy Write a policy Elizabeth-Anne Williams "We gathered information from sources like Sefton Park Palm House Preservation the Acas website and also used a model Trust - Opens in a new window policy supplied by Tourism HR to get us started. The document sets the scope of the policy upfront and explains why it's Elizabeth-Anne's top tips:important. For example it aims to give employees a clear sense of what behaviours• "Involve staff as much as possible." are acceptable and what are not, to support• "Be clear about why you're and protect them in the workplace and tointroducing a policy and underline encourage teamwork.management commitment to it."• "Communicate the messages in avariety of ways.""The policy also includes sections on the principles behind the policy, legal responsibilities and the procedures to be The Sefton Park Palm House Preservation followed in the event of an allegation. For Trust was formed in 1996 to restore and example, it's important to show how it develop a Grade II listed Victorian palmdovetails with related policies such as house in Sefton Park near Liverpool. Thedisciplinary and grievance procedures. Trust raises income through commercial hires of the building, to ensure a sustainable"We included examples of what constitutes future and support the development of anbullying and harassment. We especially events programme for visitors. Director wanted to highlight the less obvious forms, Elizabeth-Anne Williams describes how a such as circulating offensive jokes or review led to the introduction of a new policyconsistently setting unachievable deadlines. to prevent workplace bullying.We also developed a simple flow-chart to show the lines of reporting and procedures What I didat-a-glance."Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007Page 8 9. Bullying and harassment Communicate with staffPrevent discrimination and value diversity | Set up employment policies "For staff to have faith in a bullying andfor your business | Handling harassment policy you have to involve themdisciplinaries | Handling employment and make it more than just a document. We tribunal claims | How to deal with stress | consulted staff about the new policy viaManage absence and sickness | Work team meetings and individual discussions to effectively with trade unions | Here's how make sure they understood the principlesasking employees for ideas improved our and procedures involved.business | Here's how a diverse workforce has helped my business | "We've made the policy very much a part of our company culture and we look for ways to reinforce the message during day-to-dayRelated web sites you might find activities. Having the policy in place has already proved useful. Not only does it useful support our goal to create an open andBullying and harassment at work team-spirited environment, we've actually guidance (PDF, 232K) - Opens in a new referred to it formally to help resolve a minor window incident." Tackling bullying at work for employers What I'd do differently on the Andrea Adams Trust website - Opens in a new window Introduce a policy sooner "We believe our bullying and harassment Resolving conflict online courses on the policy is thorough and comprehensive andlearndirect business website - Opens in a sets clear guidelines for acceptablenew window behaviour. In an ideal world, we would have put it in place from day one."Download guidance on dealing with bullying at work from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development website (PDF, 550K) - Opens in a new Helplines window Andrea Adams Trust Helpline Harassment and sex discrimination 01273 704900legislation factsheet on the Government Equalities Office website - Opens in a new window Acas Helpline 08457 47 47 47Stress at work advice on the Acas website - Opens in a new windowDraft bullying agreement on the UNISON Related guides on website - Opens in a new window businesslink.gov.uk Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 9 10. Bullying and harassment Bullying and harassment | Created by Business Link on 16 September 2009 14:40 è Crown copyright 2007 Page 10