Respect at work and study: Policy and Code of Practice
We are fully committed to eliminating discrimination and actively promoting equality of opportunity for our staff and students in line with our University Strategy. We believe that where equality of opportunity exists all staff and students work in a more rewarding and less stressful environment, one where discrimination, prejudice and harassment are not accepted, and one more likely to enhance performance and achievement.
We will seek to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive work and study environment that respects the dignity of staff and students and assists all members of our University community to achieve their full potential. This policy has been written in support of developing and encouraging a work and study environment in which personal harassment of any kind is known to be unacceptable, and one in which individuals have the confidence to complain without fear of reprisals. No-one in our University community is expected to endure offensive, intimidating or bullying behaviour and the University will not tolerate the harassment of one member of our community by another.
We are fully committed to investigating complaints and taking appropriate action. This policy and code of practice relates to allegations of harassment by staff v staff, staff v students, students v students and students v staff.
It is the responsibility of every member of our University community to help achieve this inclusive and supportive environment and to promote good relations between groups by being tolerant and having respect for diversity. You can do so by making sure that your own conduct does not cause offence or misunderstanding. Managers have the responsibility to take complaints seriously and carry out investigations in line with University procedures. Individuals have a responsibility to bring forward issues in a timely manner in order that any investigation is carried out at the earliest opportunity.
Where there are instances of activity on campus which may undermine good campus relations, and to assist staff and students in maintaining a balance between individual freedoms and expectations of conduct, the University has policies in place to address such matters. The Code Of Practice On Freedom Of Speech Relating To Meetings Or Other Activities On University Premises and the Code Of Practice On Notification Of Misconduct To The Police And Internal Action can both be found in the University Calendar Volume 1.
Appropriate members of the University community will receive training in dealing with cases of harassment, and will be available to any student or member of staff to offer advice or information in confidence, help to resolve issues if the complainant wishes, and act as a channel for complaints. (Individual or collective complaints about terms and conditions of employment which do not involve harassment are dealt with under the established grievance procedures for academic and support staff.) We will aim to recruit Harassment contacts from a diverse range of people.
Where an individual wishes to make a complaint against his\her Manager, then the complaint should be addressed to a more senior manager, e.g. a Faculty Dean.
When reported, complaints of harassment will be dealt with as quickly as possible. Though some forms of harassment may be resolved informally, there may be occasions when a formal approach is required from the onset. It is important that individuals bring forward complaints at the earliest opportunity and within a reasonable time frame in order that a thorough appreciation of all the circumstances can be gained.
The possibility that complaints might be brought with vexatious or malicious intent is also recognised by the University and may provide grounds for disciplinary action.
All records concerning allegations or complaints of harassment will be treated as confidential and in line with the provisions of the Data Protection Act.
Cases of alleged harassment will be investigated impartially by the University, which will ensure that the alleged harasser has the opportunity to be represented and to be given a clear account of the allegation so that he/she may state his\her case.
Unless incidents of harassment are notified in a timely manner, the University may find itself unable adequately to take steps to prevent or eliminate harassment. It is therefore important that staff and students use the channels provided (see ‘sources of help' at the end of this document) as set out in this document. We will monitor reported cases of harassment and report the results of our monitoring in the Diversity Annual Report on an annual basis. This monitoring will be carried out anonymously, and the statistical data collected will be used to inform policy reviews.
What is Personal Harassment?
Personal harassment is difficult to define in terms of acceptable or unacceptable behaviour.
It is important to understand that even behaviour which is not intended to cause offence or distress may do so. Differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what seems like harassment to one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive, hostile or intimidating to the recipient and would be regarded as harassment by any reasonable person. It may consist of behaviour taking place over a period of time or a single incident, but in all cases it involves an unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited act which makes the recipient feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, humiliated, unsafe or frightened.
It should be noted that incidents outside of normal hours, and not on University premises might still require investigation and action where incidents involve members of the University community.
Any difficulty in defining personal harassment should not deter a member of staff or a student from seeking support or complaining of behaviour which causes them distress. They should also not be deterred because of embarrassment or fear of intimidation or publicity. The University will respect the particular sensitivity of harassment complaints and their consequences, and will treat any complaint with the utmost confidentiality. Complaints will not normally be taken further than the complainant wishes.
Sexual Harassment involves unwanted sexual attention which emphasises sexual status over status as an individual, colleague or student, or unwanted conduct on the grounds of a persons sex which violates their dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. We tend to think first of women being harassed by men, but it may also occur between members of the same sex or of men by women. Harassment is especially serious when the alleged harasser is in a position of power to the person complaining of the harassment.
Harassment on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation is unwanted conduct that violates a person's dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Such conduct may be aimed at heterosexuals, particularly, but not exclusively, when individuals are perceived to be gay men and lesbians, transgender or bisexual (LGBT), but is more usually experienced by LGBT people. The European Commission code of practice on sexual harassment points out that lesbians and gay men often encounter disproportionate levels of harassment relating to their sexuality. The response of LGBT people to harassment may also be complicated by the fact that in order to complain about it or confront it, they may have to be open about their sexuality or gender identity with colleagues (perhaps for the first time). Legislation to protect LGBT people employees was introduced in December 2003.
Racial and Religious Harassment occurs when someone's actions or words, based on race, religion, colour, ethnic or national origins, are unwelcome and violate another person's dignity or create an environment that is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. (Note: the MacPherson report which followed the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry defined a racist incident as "any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person".)
Disability Harassment may be defined as behaviour, deliberate or otherwise, relating to a persons disability, which violates a disabled person's dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the individual. Disability harassment can occur in situations such as undue pressure or intimidation, impractical work expectations or offensive language or jokes.
Age harassment may be described as treating a person differently because of his\her perceived youth or mature age, which violates a person's dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. For example in applying age limits in recruitment and selection, training and promotion opportunities. The University has for some time removed age bias in employment, by removing age requirements and ‘age for wage' salary scales (except for Government sponsored Modern Apprenticeships).
Bullying may be defined as offensive, abusive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour and abuse of power which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable. As with all forms of harassment, it is the impact on the individual and not the intention of the perpetrator which determines whether bullying has occurred.
Bullying is most commonly associated with an abuse of power, most typically by a manager in an employment relationship or Lecturer/tutor in a staff/student relationship (see also guidelines on consensual relationships). However, other power relationships may equally lead to bullying by colleagues or a group of people who target an individual.
Firm, Fair Management
Effective leadership and management is based on respect, trust, support and encouragement. Managers are responsible for ensuring that staff who report to them perform to an acceptable standard. Legitimate monitoring of an employee's behaviour or job performance does not, therefore, constitute bullying.
It is reasonable to expect a manager to carry out these functions in a fair, firm and consistent manner. Carrying out these functions does not constitute an act of bullying or harassment, although some staff may feel anxious whilst the procedures are ongoing.
It is important to differentiate between firm, fair management and bullying behaviour. It is in the interests of the University that managers should be able to carry out their duties without threat of ill-intentioned, malicious, vexatious or unreasonable complaints.
It is not always easy to differentiate between firm, fair management and bullying and harassment, but some examples of what is considered firm/fair management are as follows:
- Consistent and fair.
- Determined to achieve the best results, but reasonable and flexible.
- Knows own mind and is clear about own ideas, but willing to consult with colleagues before drawing up proposals.
- Insists upon high standards of service in quality of and behaviour within the team.
- Will discuss in private any perceived deterioration before forming any views or taking action, and does not apportion blame on others when things go wrong.
- Asks for people's views, listens and assimilates feedback.
- Consistently demonstrates sensitivity to the behaviour of others and adapts own behaviour to get the optimum work outputs.
- Consistently demonstrates behaviour irrespective of where work takes place and regardless of numbers of staff present.
What you can do if you feel you are subject to harassment, directly or indirectly.
If you feel that you are being subjected to personal harassment in any form, do not feel that it is your fault or that you have to tolerate it.
In order to maintain working relationships matters should be dealt with by an informal intervention wherever possible.
The informal process for members of staff seeking to make allegations of personal harassment can be found at annex 1 to this policy.
The informal process for students seeking to make allegations of personal harassment can be found at annex 2 to this policy.
Where the informal approach is unsuccessful, or you wish to move straight to a formal stage, the appropriate Grievance/Complaint Procedure will be followed. Staff should contact the nominated Faculty/Division representative in Human Resources for information about the correct Grievance Procedure to be followed.
Students should contact the Deputy Academic Registrar or the Assistant Registrar (Secretariat) for advice on the correct procedure to be used.
Cases of Rape or other Physical Assault on Students or Staff
If you are the victim of rape or other physical assault, seek help immediately. The attack should be reported to the police as soon as possible, and you will be able to choose to see a female or a male officer. Any of the named contacts in annex 3 will willingly give support and help you decide what to do. You will be given advice but what further action is to be taken, if any, will be your decision. For your own protection and the protection of others, it is important that the offender is dealt with. If you decide to go to the police, you will not be left to go alone, unless you so wish. Locally available advice and help centres for women and men who are the victims of rape or other sexual assault are also listed in annex 3.