Everyone is entitled to dignity and respect at work and it is the responsibility of everyone to play a part in achieving this. North West Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is committed to taking into account needs based on the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (i.e. age, pregnancy and maternity, disability, transgender, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, gender and sexual orientation).
The Trust is striving towards valuing diversity by promoting and implementing equality of opportunity in all its activities. Equality can only be achieved where there is an atmosphere of openness and trust, and where Managers play a supportive and positive role in managing people. It is, therefore, the duty of all employees to ensure the workplace is free from harassment and bullying.
Support is available to staff who may be feeling bullied or harassed. Staff are encouraged to attempt to resolve matters informally and this would normally involve raising the matter with their line manager and discussing the options available to seek early resolution. Early resolution is supported through access to a resolution meeting (facilitated by a manager) and/or by accessing the Workplace Mediation Service, anyone involved would be asked if they are willing to participate. staffzone.nwbh.nhs.uk/people-and-development-hub/employee-relations/grievance/mediation-service
Occupational Health offer a confidential Counselling Service and can offer support to those feeling bullied or harassed. Anyone can make a self-referral to the counselling service or speak to their manager about a management referral.
Where employees wish to raise a grievance not related to bullying/harassment please refer to the grievance page.
A member of staff feels that they are being subjected to harassment and bullying by a colleague. What should they do?
The member of staff is encouraged to raise the matter with the person concerned (with support if necessary) and ask for the behaviour to stop.
If this does not resolve the situation they may wish to invoke the formal procedure. They should put their complaint in writing to their line manager including:-
- The name of the person the complaint is against
- Dates, times and location of when the bullying and harassment has taken place
- Nature of the behaviour (e.g. verbal abuse, public humiliation, intimidation etc)
- Action already taken (if any) to stop the behaviour
A member of staff has complained to their line manager that a colleague is bullying them. What should their line manager do?
- All managers have a responsibility to maintain a bullying and harassment free work environment, therefore any complaint of this nature should be treated seriously, confidentially and promptly.
- If the line manager is satisfied that the complaint is one of bullying or harassment, they should find out if the individual making the complaint has tried to resolve it informally.
- The line manager should encourage the complainant to resolve the matter by discussing with the person how their behaviour makes them feel.
- If the member of staff has been unable to resolve the matter informally or feels unable to do so an investigating officer will be appointed to investigate the matter
Can a line manager move one or both parties to another area of work during an investigation where a serious allegation of harassment or bullying has been made?
- Yes, in some cases it is necessary to move one or both parties while the allegations are investigated.
- This is very much a subjective judgement and advice should be taken from the HR Operations team before any decision is taken.
- The individual(s) should be made aware that a change of this nature does not imply guilt or misconduct and that it is to enable a fair and proper investigation.
- The complainant should not automatically be moved or excluded as this can result in them feeling more like a victim - it is important that they agree to any potential move or exclusion.
- In exceptional circumstances precautionary suspension of the alleged bully/harasser may be appropriate.
Can someone be dismissed as a result of an allegation of bullying and harassment?
- Yes, if it is considered that the behaviour constitutes misconduct/gross misconduct under the organisation's Disciplinary Policy then a disciplinary hearing should be arranged which could lead to the employee being dismissed.
- No employee will be dismissed for a first case of harassment except when the conduct is regarded as gross misconduct.
- If the behaviour is not considered to be of such a serious nature and was clearly unintentional, then disciplinary action would not be taken against the individual.
- In these circumstances, the person accused of the unacceptable behaviour could be asked to attend training or guidance to clarify appropriate standards of conduct. This sanction can be applied at the informal or the formal stage.
How does a line manager know whether someone is being bullied or harassed?
It can be very difficult to be sure of whether someone is being bullied or harassed, as the signs are often hard to recognise.
- It may include:
- Spreading malicious rumours or insults (i.e. based on race, skin colour, nationality, sex, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief)
- Copying memos or emails that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know
- Ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail
- Exclusion or victimisation
- Unfair treatment
- Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position
- Unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, display of offensive materials
- Deliberately undermining a competent worker with constant criticism
- Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities
Once the disciplinary meeting is over, what can the line manager tell the person who made the complaint?
- Once the disciplinary meeting is over, the person who made the complaint will want to know the outcome.
- It is important to protect the confidentiality of others involved, such as any witnesses.
- If the complaint is upheld, the complainant can be informed of this but they must not be given any other information, such as the disciplinary outcome/level of santion (if any).
- If the complaint was not upheld, they will need to be provided with details of the findings to justify this decision.