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Dignity at Work Policy

 1   Purpose

1.1   Portsmouth Disability Forum PDF believes that it is in everyone’s interests for the environment in which we work to be harmonious and respectful.  Although we would like to think that this is always the case, this policy recognises that inappropriate behaviour, which may include harassment, can and does take place. 

 1.2    This policy aims to ensure that, if inappropriate behaviour does occur in the workplace, it is dealt with in a serious, sensitive and confidential manner so that the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible for all concerned.

 1.3   The company is committed to creating a working environment in which all employees are treated fairly and with dignity and respect. We want to create a culture where differences are valued and harassment and discrimination are not accepted.  We recognise that our employees are as diverse as the community we serve and that maximising everyone’s contribution is essential if we are to achieve the company’s aims and objectives.

2   Policy Statement

2.1   PDF  is opposed to all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment and seeks to create and maintain a working environment where all employees are treated with dignity and respect.  In order to achieve this aim, the company has devised this procedure to support you and give you a means of challenging any unlawful discrimination or harassment that you experience or witness.

2.2   The company will not tolerate harassment or bullying of:

  • job applicants
  • employees
  • contractors
  • agency workers
  • self-employed workers
  • former employees.

2.3   This policy also applies to work-related functions which are held outside of normal working hours, either on or off company premises, eg Christmas parties, leaving celebrations, working lunches, etc.

3   Principles

 3.1   PDF is wholeheartedly committed to the principles of valuing diversity and promoting equality and wishes to carry out its business activities under the following principles:

3.1.1   you have the right to work in an environment free from harassment, discrimination, any form of bullying or unwanted inappropriate conduct and the company therefore has a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to discrimination     and harassment;

3.1.2   we expect you to treat your colleagues with dignity and respect;

3.1.3   you should never fear coming to work because you may be subject to ridicule or humiliation;

3.1.4   harassment is unlawful and you, as an individual employee, may be liable;

3.1.5   we firmly believe that most differences can be resolved informally with direct, open, timely and constructive discussion between those involved;

3.1.6   any issues which you raise will be dealt with in a serious, sensitive and confidential manner;  we are committed to tackling incidents of inappropriate behaviour swiftly and decisively; 

3.1.7   bullying, harassing or behaving in an inappropriate manner towards your colleagues or service users will not be tolerated;  if the circumstances warrant it, disciplinary action up to and including dismissal will be taken   against you if allegations of unacceptable conduct are proven.

4   The Company’s Responsibilities

 4.1   While the company actively promotes the benefits of working in an inclusive and positive environment, there are also other legal obligations that the company must fulfil as your employer.  For example, under the Health and Safety Act at Work Act 1974, PDF has a duty to protect your health, safety and welfare at work.  This means taking reasonable steps to prevent bullying or harassment at work and to protect you from the detrimental effects of this type of behaviour.

5   What do we mean by Harassment, Bullying or Discrimination?

 5.1   Harassment

 5.1.1   Different things affect us all in different ways and therefore what one individual might think of as harmless could be felt to be harassment by another.  It is important to remember that harassment is defined by the way that someone feels about your behaviour and not by your intentions.  For example, you might tell a joke that you think is funny.  Although it was just a bit of fun and you did not intend to upset anyone, one of your colleagues finds it offensive. This individual may have a valid claim that he/she has been harassed.

 5.1.2   It is important to note that the question of whether or not behaviour constitutes harassment rests with the person on the receiving end of the behaviour.  Friendly, welcome and reciprocated actions are fine but great care should be taken when interacting with others to distinguish between behaviour that is viewed as welcome and behaviour that is unwanted and potentially offensive to another person.

 5.1.3   A single incident can constitute harassment, if it is sufficiently serious.  Alternatively, a series of relatively minor incidents or actions can be collectively viewed as harassment, in particular if the behaviour persists after the individual has expressed an objection to it or asked for it to stop.  The company’s position is that no harassment of any kind should take place and all employees have a responsibility to ensure at all times that their own behaviour does not offend others.

 5.1.4   It is important to remember that harassment:

  • depends on the view of the individual on the receiving end of another person’s behaviour
  • does not depend on the severity of the behaviour - a joke or a throw-away comment could be perceived as harassment by anyone who hears it
  • can include behaviour that you hear or see, even if it is not directed at you and has nothing to do with you.

5.1.5   Sexual harassment can include verbal behaviour such as inappropriate and unwelcome sexual comments, suggestions, jokes or pressure for sexual favours; non-verbal behaviour such as suggestive looks or leering; and physical behaviour such as touching, squeezes or hugs, or repeatedly brushing against someone's body.  These types of behaviour are sexual harassment when:

  • they are part of a manager's decision to hire or dismiss;
  • they are used to make any other employment decisions like pay increases, promotion or job assignments;
  • they create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

5.1.6   Sexual harassment does not refer to casual conversation or compliments of a socially- acceptable nature.  It refers to behaviour which is not welcome and which is personally offensive, interfering with an individual’s effectiveness in the workplace or creating discomfort.  If you are uncertain about whether certain sexually-oriented behaviour is sexual harassment, think about whether you feel this behaviour would be inappropriate or uncomfortable for members of your family to see or be subjected to.  If you do, then the behaviour may be perceived as sexual harassment.

 5.2   Bullying

5.2.1   Bullying is regarded as any behaviour, occasional or persistent and by anyone, which intimidates or oppresses another person, possibly through misuse of authority or power. It invariably has a negative effect on the victim’s self-confidence, self-esteem and general well-being.  It can be subtle in nature and is intended to hurt. 

5.3   It can take place with your work colleagues in public or in private, at work or socially.

5.3.1   Obvious examples of bullying may include:

  • shouting or swearing at people in public and private
  • persistent excessive, unfair or unjustified criticism
  • public humiliation and/or insults
  • ignoring of opinions/ignoring or deliberately excluding people
  • persecution by intimidating or threatening behaviour and instilling fear
  • spreading malicious rumours
  • constantly undervaluing effort
  • dispensing disciplinary action that is totally unjustified
  • spontaneous rages, often over trivial matters.

5.3.2   The less obvious:

  • aggressive communications
  • withholding information or supplying incorrect information
  • unjustified, excessive monitoring and/or supervision
  • deliberately sabotaging or impeding work performance
  • constantly changing targets for no justifiable reason
  • setting individuals up to fail by imposing impossible deadlines
  • levelling unfair criticism about performance the night before an employee goes on holiday
  • removing areas of responsibility and imposing menial tasks
  • blocking applications for holiday, promotion or training.

5.4   The actions listed must be viewed in terms of the distress they cause the individual. It is the perceptions of the recipient that determine whether any action or statement can be viewed as bullying.

6   Preventing Harassment

 6.1   We all have a responsibility to discourage harassment and prevent it from taking place.  We therefore expect you to:

  • treat your colleagues with dignity and respect at all times by being aware of the problems that harassment can cause and ensuring that your behaviour does not cause others to feel harassed;  and
  • make your colleagues aware that certain conduct or behaviour is causing concern or offence to you or to others.

6.2   Your manager has a particular responsibility to prevent harassment taking place by:

  • setting positive examples of appropriate behaviour by respecting colleagues’ right to dignity in the workplace;
  • being alert to the possibility that harassment may be happening in his/her area;
  • using his/her judgment to correct behaviour that could be considered offensive and reminding employees of the company’s policy on this matter;
  • taking prompt action to stop harassment as soon as it is identified;  and
  • dealing with all incidents quickly, seriously, sensitively and in confidence.

7   Dealing with Harassment and/or Bullying

 7.1   PDF will deal with all complaints of harassment promptly, fairly, sensitively and in confidence.  Wherever possible, the emphasis should be on resolving issues of harassment and bullying informally without resorting to the formal procedure. 

7.2   However, if you are being harassed or bullied, it is important that you keep a record of all alleged instances as soon as practicably possible after the incident has taken place.  You should make detailed notes of any alleged instances of harassment or bullying and keep them.  The notes should be signed and dated and contain the following:

  • date, time and place of the incident(s)
  • name of the person(s) carrying out the harassment/bullying
  • full details of what actually happened and what was said
  • names of any witnesses
  • any other relevant information

7.3   Most people who complain that they are being harassed simply want the behaviour to stop. Where appropriate, they can be encouraged to take charge of the situation by informing the harasser that his or her behaviour is unacceptable and that it must stop.

7.4   If you feel that you are unable to deal with a particular situation without support, you should ask your manager to explain to the person causing offence that his/her behaviour is unwelcome and must stop. If you feel unable to do this, then you may ask a colleague to do make an initial approach on your behalf in confidence.

7.5   Whichever approach is used to confront the person(s) concerned, you should record the action taken and the outcome as evidence of your attempt to deal with the situation.

7.6   If this initial approach fails to resolve the problem, you may use the Complaints Procedure, which is detailed below.  Disciplinary action will be considered in all cases where a claim of harassment is upheld.

 7.7   If the complaint is not upheld, there may still be a need to consider whether you and the individual who is the subject of the complaint can continue to work effectively in your respective roles as a consequence of the complaint having been made.

7.8   Management action, whether or not the complaint is upheld, may include:

  • mediation;
  • monitoring the situation for a defined period of time;
  • counselling and/or training as appropriate to the circumstances;
  • delaying either or both parties returning to work, where suspended, until all appropriate arrangements are in place.

 8   False allegations of Harassment or Bullying

If it is concluded that your complaint of inappropriate behaviour was not made in good faith, your actions will be treated as having been made with malicious intent and will be dealt with under the company’s Disciplinary Policy where it is concluded that the false allegation was based on a genuine, but mistaken, belief, you will be advised of the potentially serious nature of the mistake and of the need to avoid the same situation arising in future.

 9   Approval and Amendment History

Amendment History








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