Harassment and bullying policy
1.1 In this section, an employer whose terms and conditions of employment are determined by the Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC) of the BBSRC, is known as a BBSRC JNCC employer (see paragraph 6, introduction to BBSRC employment code for further details). This statement has been agreed between the management and Trade Union Sides of the BBSRC JNCC.
1.2 BBSRC is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to creating a non-discriminatory, fair and supportive working environment for all its employees. The BBSRC dignity and diversity at work policy provides the broad framework for these objectives. An intrinsic element of the policy is that employees have the right not to suffer harassment at work for any reason and BBSRC will not permit or condone harassment or bullying at work.
1.3 Harassment and/or bullying can have a very serious effect on an individual, leading to poor working relationships, low morale, lack of motivation and stress related illnesses. Therefore the intention of this policy statement is to seek to discourage this type of behaviour and to provide means of helping employees who experience it.
1.4 You are personally responsible for preventing behaviour that could be construed as harassment or bullying.
1.5 BBSRC will take disciplinary action under the disciplinary policy in circumstances where an allegation of harassment and/or bullying has been substantiated. In some cases, harassment may be regarded as gross misconduct which can lead to summary dismissal.
2.1 Harassment is unwanted conduct, related to a relevant protected characteristic (see section A3 Part 1), which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Employees are also protected from harassment by association and perception and will be able to complain of behaviour directed at themselves or another person. Examples of harassment include inappropriate jokes and nicknames, verbal abuse and physical harassment. It is important to remember that the key is whether the behaviour is acceptable by reasonable normal standards and is disadvantageous or unwelcome to those persons subjected to it or who witnessed it.
2.2 Harassment may take the form of persistent behaviour or a serious one-off act. It can include the use of images downloaded and / or transmitted via the Internet or e-mail system and comments posted on Social Media networking sites. Further information relating to this can be found in the 'Code of practice for the use of computer facilities and communications systems' ( appendix A2.2). Harassment also extends beyond the confines of the organisation to work social gatherings and to treatment beyond the close of the working relationship e.g. to the provision of references.
2.3 Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power, which is intended to undermine and/or humiliate an individual employee or groups of employees.
3. The legal context
It is not possible to make a direct complaint to an employment tribunal about bullying. However, employees might be able to bring complaints under laws covering discrimination and harassment contained in the Equality Act 2010.
4. Line manager responsibilities
BBSRC JNCC employers expect all employees, particularly those who exercise line management responsibilities, to discourage harassment and bullying and ensure that appropriate action is taken when necessary. In particular, they should:
- use their judgement in correcting standards of conduct or behaviour which might be interpreted as offensive, and remind employee(s) concerned of the BBSRC policy
- take effective action to end the harassing/bullying behaviour as soon as it is identified
- provide a supportive framework for employees who complain about harassment/bullying, including third party harassment (see paragraph 6 below)
5. Procedure for handling cases of alleged harassment or bullying
5.1 BBSRC recognise the difficulties faced by employees who feel that they are being harassed or bullied and that making a complaint about harassment/bullying is likely to be a distressing experience.
5.2 You are encouraged to deal with your complaint informally in the first instance through discussions between the parties concerned in a confidential manner. To support this informal and confidential approach you may seek the support, advice and assistance of any of the following people, who, if requested, will assist in resolving the matter informally in consultation with other appropriate people:
- the local Head of HR
- the local harassment contact (if applicable)
- a member of the local Staff Support Group (if applicable)
- a union representative
- a work colleague
5.3 Where you decide, with or without preliminary informal discussion, to make a formal complaint under the grievance procedure ( section A12c) it will be treated as a potentially serious matter which should be handled as quickly as possible. The complaint will be investigated under the grievance procedure.
If the investigator finds that there is a case to answer, the alleged perpetrator will be invited to respond to the allegations at a disciplinary hearing in accordance with the disciplinary policy ( section A12b). The disciplinary panel will consider the original investigator’s report, which will constitute the formal stage 1 of the disciplinary procedure.
If the investigator does not uphold your complaint, they will advise you in writing of their decision in accordance with the grievance procedure ( section A12c), normally within 20 working days of the grievance meeting. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you have the right to appeal.
If the disciplinary hearing finds for the alleged perpetrator (i.e. does not uphold your complaint), you will have the right of appeal under the grievance procedure ( section A12c).
All investigations into allegations of harassment or bullying will be carried out objectively with due respect for the rights of both the complainant and the alleged harasser or bully. Where it is considered necessary to separate individuals involved in a harassment or bullying case, every effort will be made to move the alleged harasser or bully and not the person who has allegedly been harassed and/or bullied.
At all stages of the formal and informal procedure both the complainant and the alleged harasser or bully have the right to be accompanied by a Trade Union representative, work colleague, or other representative, not acting in a legal capacity.
In investigating a complaint, confidentiality will be maintained as far as possible; the outcome of any disciplinary investigation will, of course, be notified to the employee making the allegation of harassment/bullying.
5.4 In circumstances where the victim, or the alleged harasser and/or bully is not an employee, the situation should be reported to the Director of Operations. Following investigation the outcome against the harasser/bully could include:
- issuing a warning
- formally writing to the employer or sponsor (e.g. university) of the individual
- stopping the person using the institute’s facilities
- ceasing to use the individual's services of allowing them on site (e.g. a contractor)
6.1 BBSRC will not tolerate harassment by a third party (including a customer, client, supplier or contractor) against any BBSRC employee on the grounds of sex, age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation.
6.2 All incidents of third party harassment should be reported and a record of the incident will be held by BBSRC.
Last updated 20/10/2011
Amendment 136 - October 2011