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Harassment at Work

Statement of Policy

Our Sansar Limited, as an equal opportunity employer, believes that all staff, both paid and volunteers, have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to work in an environment free of harassment and intimidation.

Accordingly, standards of behaviour in any member of staff, volunteer or trustee which constitutes harassment whether sexual, racial, or for other reason, will not be tolerated.

Each member of staff, volunteer or trustee and every visitor have the right not to be harassed and the right to complain should it occur. When a complaint is made it will be taken seriously, and prompt corrective action will be taken, which may include disciplinary action against any member of staff, volunteer or trustee who is found guilty of harassment.

Harassment at Work

Definition
1.0 Introduction

1.1 There is no single, simple definition of harassment. It can take many forms, occur on a variety of grounds and may be directed against an individual or group of individuals. It is most usually behaviour that is unsolicited, personally offensive and fails to respect the rights of others. It is not the intention of the harasser, but the deed itself and its impact on the recipient that determines what constitutes harassment.

2.0 Reasons for Harassment

2.1 Harassment may occur for many reasons, including:

  • race, ethnic origin, nationality or skin colour
  • sex or sexual orientation
  • presentation or clothing
  • religious or political clothing
  • status
  • membership or non-membership of a trade union
  • physical disabilities, sensory impairment or learning disability
  • status as an ex-offender
  • age
  • willingness to challenge harassment which can lead to victimisation

2.2 This list is not exhaustive and harassment can occur between people of the same sex or the opposite sex.

3.0 Forms of Harassment

3.1 Harassment can range from extreme forms such as violence and bullying, to less obvious actions such as ignoring someone at work. Whatever form it takes, harassment is unwanted behaviour which is unwelcome and unpleasant to the recipient, and in the case of sexual harassment, unreciprocated. This distinguishes sexual harassment from friendly or romantic behaviour, which is welcome and mutual.

e.g. Asking someone out for a drink etc and being refused is not harassment. Repeatedly asking them out having already been refused is harassment.

3.2 Forms of harassment may include:

  • physical contact ranging from touching to serious assault
  • verbal and written harassment through jokes, offensive language, gossip and slander, sectarian songs, letters etc
  • non-verbal conduct which just falls short of physical contact e.g. standing unnecessarily close to someone, looking at them in such a way as to make them feel uncomfortable, e.g. staring
  • visual displays of posters, graffiti, obscene gestures, flags, bunting and emblems
  • isolation or non co-operation at work, exclusion from social activities

3.3 It should be noted that some of this behaviour is unlawful, particularly some forms of physical contact, sexual harassment and racial harassment for example, and the distribution of racist literature etc.

4.0 Effects of Harassment

4.1 Harassment can:

  • cause you to feel threatened or humiliated
  • cause a threatening or intimidating work environment
  • interfere with your job performance
  • undermine your job security
  • impact on your overall health and well-being
5.0 Responsibilities of all staff

5.1 You have a responsibility to treat your work colleagues in a professional manner and with respect for their dignity, integrity and privacy.

5.2 You also have a responsibility not to encourage or collude with sexual, racial or any other form of harassment. This may include being silent when the abuse is occurring as this could be interpreted as encouragement, or failing to report an incident you know has occurred.

5.3 You have a responsibility to maintain confidentiality during investigations or allegations of harassment.

6.0 Responsibilities of the Directors

6.1 The directors have a responsibility to maintain a standard of professional conduct by all staff, and to investigate any complaints made either by a member of staff or a visitor.

6.2 In particular the directors will:

  • take prompt action to stop harassment once it is identified
  • ensure that offensive or potentially offensive material is not disp/layed in the workplace
  • make clear to staff that this type of behaviour is not acceptable and where appropriate will be treated as a disciplinary matter
  • document all details of the investigations regardless of whether action is taken and retain for not more than one year
  • ensure that investigations of the matter is handled with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of both parties
7.0 Dealing with Harassment

7.1 What is perceived as harassment can vary from one individual to another, so in the first instance the harasser should be asked to stop and it made clear that the behaviour is unwelcome.

7.2 If the issue remains unresolved, it should be raised with the director.

7.3 It is recognised that this could be embarrassing or difficult. Development officer may be contacted for advice and support in total confidence, and without any obligation to take the complaint further.

The Development Officer, as confidential advisor, will help by:

  • offering guidance on resolving the problem
  • helping you to resolve the problem informally by seeking, with your consent, a confidential and voluntary interview with the alleged harasser, to pursue a solution without recourse to the formal disciplinary or grievance procedure
  • secure an undertaking where appropriate by the person who is the subject of the complaint, to stop the offensive behaviour
  • counselling both parties as to their conduct where a problem has been resolved without recourse to formal procedures
  • help you to submit a grievance if you decide to complain formally

7.4 In the first instance you may feel more comfortable talking to someone of your own choice, and every effort will be made to ensure that you are able to do so.

7.5 You also have the right, if you belong to a union, to consult your union representative, without obligation to take the matter further.

8.0 Role of the Confidential Advisor

8.1 The role of the advisor is to offer support, discuss the options open to you and help you decide whether you want to progress matters.

8.2 The advisor will not participate in formal investigations of complaints nor will they be a source of evidence in any proceedings since all the discussions you have with the advisor are confidential.

8.3 The advisor can also help those individuals whose behaviour has been found to be unacceptable, and help prevent the occurrence of further incidents.

9.0 Taking Further Action

9.1 If you have exhausted the informal procedures or do not consider them an appropriate form of action, you may pursue a complaint about someone who is harassing you through the Grievance Procedure.

9.2 There may be circumstances when, because of the position of the person against whom a complaint is being made, or for other reasons, it is inappropriate to follow normal Grievance Procedures. In these circumstances the development officer should be contacted for advice on the appropriate course of action.

9.3 When investigating complaints every care will be taken to ensure that the careers and reputations of neither party are unjustly affected.

9.4 Throughout the process you may be supported by a trade union representative, member of a professional association or a friend if you wish.

9.5 All allegations will be treated seriously. Victimisation of anyone who has made an allegation or is supporting someone who has made an allegation, or the alleged harasser, will be a disciplinary offence.

9.6 Nothing in this policy prevents you reporting an incident to the Police if you think a crime has been committed.

16/06/2009