Policy on Bullying/Harassment in the Workplace
1. Purpose of the Policy:
ABC Ltd is committed to creating and maintaining a work environment where employees are valued and consider themselves free to perform work in an environment that is free from all forms of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. In accordance with our company values, ABC Ltd expects that all employees will conduct themselves with normal standards of courtesy and consideration in the workplace, at work related events, and when doing business on behalf of the company
Bullying, harassment and sexual harassment are behaviours that contravene this expectation and they will not be tolerated at any level of this organization. It is the responsibility of all employees and the employer to ensure that the workplace is free from any such incidents and to ensure to report any related behaviours.
ABC Ltd undertakes that any allegations of bullying and harassment will be dealt with seriously and that the Company will do its utmost to ensure that employees will be protected against victimization for making or being involved in a complaint. ABC Ltd is committed to ensuring that all employees are aware of the procedures for bringing complaints under this policy and that no employee should feel threatened or fearful of raising such issues.
This policy applies to employees both in the workplace and at work associated events such as meetings, conferences and work related social events, whether on the premises or off site.
The policy applies to bullying/harassment not only by fellow employees but also by a client, customer or other business contact with whom an employee might reasonably expect to come into contact with in the course of their employment.
“Workplace bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work. An isolated incident of the behaviour described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a once off incident is not considered to be bullying”
Harassment is any form of conduct or behaviour(s) which are unwanted, unwelcome, and are intimidating, offensive, hostile or degrading to the recipient on any one of 9 grounds:
-gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, disability, age, race, or membership of the traveller community
Examples of Bullying/Harassment may include but are not limited to—
• Shoving, jostling
• Interfering with personal property or work station
Non-physical and verbal:
• Constant private or public humiliation, deliberate exclusion/ostracism
• Repeated use of offensive language directed at an individual or individuals
• Personal insults, such as name-calling, sneering, continued and deliberate staring, repeated put-downs, offensive jokes, racial remarks
• Repeated verbal abuse
• Undermining a person’s role, dignity or respect
• Spreading malicious rumours
• Derogatory graffiti
• Threatening behaviour
Sexual Harassment is defined as any act of physical intimacy, request for sexual favours, and/or other acts or conduct including spoken words, gestures or the production, display or circulation of written words, pictures or other material that is unwelcome, humiliating or intimidating to the recipient.
Examples of Sexual Harassment may include but are not limited to-
• Unnecessary touching, pinching or brushing against another’s body
• Sexual Assault
• Unwelcome sexual advances
• Continued suggestions for social activity outside work that are unwanted or declined
• Suggestions that consent to sexual favours might advance one’s career or that lack of consent might hinder career opportunities
• Sexually suggestive jokes and/or comments
• Lewd remarks or innuendoes
• Unwelcome objectionable comments about person or dress
Non-verbal examples may include:
• Sexually offensive gestures
• Indecent exposure, leering, whistling
• Transmission to another or display of sexually suggestive material such as computer graphics, screensavers, films, pictures, posters, magazines or objects
• Sexually offensive or derogatory graffiti
Investigations into bullying/harassment/sexual harassment will take due account of the impact of the behaviours on the recipient. Behaviours that constitute bullying/harassment may be physical, non-physical or verbal. In non-physical forms of bullying, the determining factor is the repeated and persistent nature of the unwanted and offensive behaviour against an individual or group.
It is important when making a complaint that employees distinguish bullying/harassment from (a) the normal management function of managing performance and behaviour (including supervision of work and performance related discussions) and (b) normal acceptable interaction in the workplace.
Policy and Procedure:
In drawing up the complaints procedure, the organization has had regard to the time limits specified in the Equality Authority’s Codes of Practice. Therefore, whether a complainant is making a formal or informal complaint, the complaint will be made within six months of the last alleged incident, be this alleged incident of a bullying, harassment or sexual harassment nature. Where a reasonable cause has prevented a person making a complaint within this timeframe, the 6-month window may be extended by the company.
ABC Ltd supports two approaches to resolving complaints regarding bullying, harassment and sexual harassment, an informal and a formal procedure. It is the decision of the complainant which approach to adopt in a situation. Before deciding on which approach to adopt, the employee may seek help and advice, on a strictly confidential basis, from one of the nominated contact officers in the company, who should listen to the complaint and discuss with the complainant the various options available to them to resolve the complaint.
While in no way diminishing the issue or the effects on individuals, an informal approach can often resolve matters satisfactorily and speedily.
An employee who feels that he/she has been subjected to bullying, harassment or sexual harassment should approach the alleged perpetrator (s) and explain clearly that the behaviour in question is unacceptable and request that it stops immediately. The employee should explain that the behaviour is not welcome, that is offends them and that it interferes with their work.
In circumstances where the employee finds it difficult to raise the issue with the alleged perpetrator (s), he/she may approach a designated HR representative with their complaint with a view to resolving the issue informally through a mediated solution.
It is not appropriate that either party would be accompanied by either colleagues or representatives at such informal meetings.
The formal procedure may be used when:
➢ The complainant does not wish to use the informal procedure.
➢ The alleged bullying or harassment is too serious to be treated informally.
➢ Informal attempts at resolution have been unsuccessful.
➢ The behaviour has continued after an informal approach.
A formal complaint should be made to the complainant’s immediate manager, or if not appropriate, to any member of local management or the Human Resources department. All complaints should ultimately be in writing and should be confined to precise details of the alleged incidents. Assistance in writing this complaint can be sought from your manager or a HR representative.
The alleged perpetrator will then be notified in writing that an allegation has been made and he/she will be given a copy of the complainant’s statement and be advised of the procedures for dealing with the complaint.
At this stage, the recipient of the complaint will review the complaint with a view to determining an appropriate course of action and respond to the parties within 5 working days. An appropriate course of action at this stage, for example, could be exploring a further mediated solution or a view that the issue may be resolved informally. Should either of these approaches be deemed inappropriate or inconclusive or should the complainant wish, a formal investigation of the complaint will take place with a view to determining the facts and the credibility or otherwise of the allegation (s).
During the investigation process, the complainant and the alleged perpetrator (s) shall be entitled to be accompanied by a representative of their choice.
Investigations may be conducted by an internally trained investigator(s) or if deemed appropriate by the company, an agreed third party. Where appropriate, the investigation will be conducted by two people and every effort shall be made to ensure a gender-balanced team. The investigators will take due regard of the impact of the investigation on both parties and every effort will be made to conclude the investigation as soon as possible. The Company will do its best to ensure any investigation is completed in sufficient time to protect the complainant’s statutory rights.
The investigator (s) will:
➢ Interview the complainant.
➢ Invite the alleged perpetrator to respond orally and in writing to the allegations.
➢ Meet with the complainant and put the alleged perpetrator’s response to them.
➢ Decide at this stage if it appropriate to (a) resolve the issues (b) carry out further investigations (c) reach a conclusion.
➢ If further investigation is necessary, the investigator shall meet with both parties again and any witnesses involved.
➢ During the process, all information gathered will be forwarded to all parties involved and they will be entitled to respond before the investigation is concluded.
At the completion of the investigation, a report determining whether an allegation of bullying, harassment or sexual harassment has been substantiated or not will be prepared. This report will include: the nature and details of the complaint, the response of the alleged offender, the conclusions of the investigation team. This report will be forwarded to the manager who initiated the investigation, who will determine an appropriate course of action. Both the complainant and person(s) complained of will be notified of the outcome of the investigation stage.
If a complaint is upheld, any action taken will mirror the offence. In some cases, an apology and assurance of non-recurrence may suffice. In others, options such as training, counselling, a period of monitoring and appraisal, demotion, or transfer may be considered, as might disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. This list is not exhaustive.
Throughout the investigation, an external counselling support will be offered to both the complainant and alleged offender if so desired and appropriate. Counselling may also be run in parallel with any disciplinary proceedings progressing at the conclusion of an investigation.
A complainant’s rights are protected under this policy and a complainant will not be penalised for making a complaint in good faith. However, should it be found that a complaint has been brought maliciously; it will be treated as gross misconduct under the Company’s disciplinary procedures.
At all times through informal and formal procedures, confidentiality will be maintained to the degree to which this is possible subject to the requirements of our established procedures.
The key aim of the company’s policy is that all complaints can be resolved through internal procedures available to the employee. However, it is the statutory right of all employees to process a complaint under the terms of the relevant legislation where internal procedures have failed to resolve the issue.
If either party is dissatisfied with the decision or findings of the investigation, an appeal may be made to an appropriate department director or Human Resources Director.
This policy will be reviewed on an on-going basis and any amendments will be advised to employees.
Appendix 1: Role of the Contact Person
ABC Ltd has a panel of designated contact officers throughout the organization who are available to all employees to assist them in addressing issues of bullying and harassment in the workplace.
When an individual feel’s they are the subject of bullying/harassment, they may approach any of the designated contact officers. Ideally, they should arrange a meeting with the contact officer in an appropriate place.
The role of the contact officer at this meeting will be to:
➢ assist the individual to clarify their situation
➢ provide information about the range of options available to deal with the complaint
Once an employee has made a decision about how to proceed, the contact officer will advise them of the next steps they should take.
During the course of any informal/formal procedure, the employee may meet the contact officer again should they have questions about the procedures.
Appendix 2: Summary of Options for dealing with a complaint
1. Initial consultation with Contact Officer if desired.
2. Approach alleged perpetrator with a view to addressing the complaint informally.
3. Approach HR representative with complaint with a view to resolving informally through a mediated meeting.
4. Formal complaint to manager/HR representative.