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Dealing with Bullying, Victimisation & Harrassement

When issues emerge in relation to claims of bullying, harassment or victimisation this first step is to check the Board definitions. Thereafter if it appears that the matter relates to bullying and harassment, as per the definitions, the formal process to be followed is outlined in the flowchart - Dealing with Bullying, Victimisation and Harassment. 

A member of staff who feels they are experiencing Bullying, Harassment or Victimisation, should immediately report the matter to their line manager. If the allegation involves the line manager then the next in line manager should be approached. Allegations of above behaviour will always be formally investigated and if there is clear evidence of misconduct this can result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, under the Board’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

If the evidence is unclear then there will be an independent review of the evidence. This investigation will be carried out by a Joint Investigatory Panel (JIP).

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

Employee raises complaint:

All formal complaints should be in writing. If an employee is not willing to put the complaint in writing then an investigation cannot proceed. The manager should ensure that the employee is aware of mediation and should check that this has already been explored.

Managers Considerations and Judgement

The Manager has several considerations and actions to take when an issue presents:

  • needs to determine who they need to speak to on receipt of a written complaint
  • speak to the employee raising the concern and the employee who the complaint is against
  • needs to establish whether the Dignity at Work Policy is applicable in the circumstances – by reference to the definitions as per the policy.
  • needs to make a judgement as to whether there should be an investigation.
  • seek advice from HR if unsure as to how to proceed
  • should consider separating the parties as necessary and confirm any alternative working arrangements in writing as a temporary measure.

The manager is not expected to speak to potential witnesses at this stage.

Add details regarding the management meeting with the employee and who should be present at this meeting, purpose of meeting etc.

Clear Evidence:

Clear evidence would be matter of recorded fact, e.g. a direct admission or document evidence such as emails or a Facebook download.

The manager would then commission an investigation under the Board’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure. The manager would be responsible for identifying an independent manager to be the Investigating Officer and liaising with HR for investigatory support. Refer to Disciplinary Policy.

Evidence misconduct unclear:

Before an investigation begins the manager should make both employees aware that there will be an investigation. Manager should confirm what trade union(s) the employee(s) involved will be represented by.

Complaint does not meet definitions:

Manager should write to employee to confirm this.
Manager should explain why the complaint does not meet the definitions of the policy and attempt to help the employee understand the decision. Manager may also refer back to informal measures outlined in the policy.

If the employee disagrees they can invoke the Grievance Procedure.

Commissions Joint Investigation Panel (JIP)

Manager should appoint a chair of the JIP who is situated out-with the immediate service area and not implicated in the complaint

QuickView of the process, steps and responsibilities for a JIP.

Further details of the actual JIP investigation meeting – do’s and don’ts, role of the panel etc…can be found in section 7 of the main policy appendix.

JIP Report:

The report is shared to all parties to provide comment (excluding witnesses). Additional comments can be included by way of an appendix and submitted with the final report. Sharing of the report does not provide an opportunity for the report to be rewritten.

The policy states that the report should be completed within a 6 week timescale. Parties should be given one week only in which to comment, this timescale may be extended on approval from the chair of the JIP following request with good reason.

Following submission of comments the JIP should consider these and determine whether any further investigation is required. On completion of the report the chair of the JIP should meet with the commissioning manager to outline the findings from the investigation and explain the rationale in relation to the outcome of the investigation.

JIP Outcome:

The JIP’s report should be submitted to the line manager unless the line manager has been involved in the investigation as a witness or implicated in another way. In such circumstances the report should be submitted to the next-in-line manager.
The manager meets with individual parties to discuss the final outcome. The employee may be represented at this meeting by their appointed representative. A representative from HR, not previously involved in the investigatory process, will also be in attendance at the meeting.

When conducting this meeting the manager should be mindful of the sensitivities surrounding the circumstances of the investigation and the recommendation(s) made.

The manager should remind the employee of the Occupational Health Service and Employee Counselling Service which they may find helpful at this time.

Evidence to support allegations

This should be a brief meeting to confirm that the matter will proceed to a formal disciplinary hearing and that the individual will be written to in due course with arrangement to attend a hearing. The manager should also advise the employee as to whether any alternative working arrangement should continue or be put in place pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. The manager should also advise the employee to continue to refrain from discussing the matter with colleagues.

The manager should remind the employee of the Occupational Health Service and Employee Counselling Service which they may find helpful at this time.

No evidence and no interventions required

This should be a brief meeting to confirm the outcome of the investigation. The manager should briefly explain the JIP’s findings and rationale behind the outcome based on the managers discussion with the JIP chair following the investigation.

The manager should work with the individuals to rebuild working relationships in order to move forward. The manager should consider accessing Organisational Development for support in improving communications and relationships within the team where appropriate.

The manager should remind the employee of the Occupational Health Service and Employee Counselling Service which they may find helpful at this time.

The manager should look to support the individuals informally and may consider highlighting the availability of mediation should the local management support be unsuccessful.

No evidence but some intervention required

The manager should meet to confirm the outcome of the investigation and should also briefly explain the JIP’s findings, rationale behind the outcome and interventions identified. This will be based on the manager’s discussion with the JIP chair following the investigation.

In considering the interventions identified by the JIP the manager should explore with the employee methods of addressing the issues identified. This may include, but not restricted to consideration of the employees PDP, exploring development opportunities, exploring possibility of mentoring and/or accessing the L&E training calendar.

The manager should remind the employee of the Occupational Health Service and Employee Counselling Service which they may find helpful at this time.

Information on e-KSF
L&E training calendar

The manager should work with the individuals to rebuild working relationships in order to move forward. The manager should consider accessing Organisational Development (OD) for support in improving communications and relationships within the team where appropriate.

The manager should remind the employee of the Occupational Health Service and Employee Counselling Service which they may find helpful at this time..

The manager should look to support the individuals informally and may consider highlighting the availability of mediation should the local management support be unsuccessful.

Basis of grievance

A grievance can be raised by either party in relation to the investigatory process, should they feel the process was flawed in some way. However there is no right to raise a grievance in relation to the outcome of the investigatory process and such grievances will be deemed not competent.

Any grievances submitted in relation to the investigatory process must be submitted within a reasonable period of time following completion of the investigation in order to be considered. If a competent grievance is raised prior to the completion of the investigation please be aware the JIP investigation will be put on hold to allow for the grievance process to be concluded.

Grievance Policy and Procedure

Disciplinary Policy and Procedure

Respondent raises counter claim

Should the occasion arise when the respondent makes a counter allegation of bullying, harassment or victimisation during the formal process (e.g. they themselves feel they were subject to inappropriate behaviours/treatment from the complainant) they will be signposted to complete the relevant document (DAW Complaint Notification form). This will be submitted to the commissioning manager who in turn will consider this in respect of the DAW definitions  and thereafter take the appropriate steps. If it does meet the definitions then the commissioning manager will update the JIP Terms of Reference to include a mandate to fully investigate these new allegations. This will be under the remit of the same investigation process.

The JIP will investigate both complaints – and draft separate reports - one addressing the original complaint and the other the counter claim.

Templates for counter complaints are included in the Dignity at Work Guidance suite of letters.

Further advice must be sought from HR in all instances of counter allegations, therefore please contact the HR Support and Advice Unit.