Code of Practice on behaviour at work for staff
This Code offers practical advice for handling bullying and harassment issues as well as providing a framework where an individual wishes to make a complaint either informally or formally.
; This Policy can be used where problems arise with other members of staff, students, external customers, or suppliers of goods and services. There is a separate policy which applies to students who wish to raise a complaint (this can be found at http://www3.open.ac.uk/our-student-policies/pdf/bullying.pdf) ; A list of bullying and harassment advisers is held by Human Resources and is available from extension 53236. The list also appears on the Human Resources intranet site (http://intranet.open.ac.uk/human-resources/index.asp) (This Policy does not apply to staff employed by OUWW, OUSA and the OU Children’s Centre who will
have their own arrangements.)
Bullying and Harassment Policy
If you feel you are being subjected to bullying or harassment you should normally aim to deal with this informally unless the issue is of a serious nature
Options for informal action: ; talk to the person about the behaviour causing distress and ask for it to stop;
; discuss with a colleague, or manager or more senior manager, trade union representative, bullying and
harassment adviser, or team HR adviser/HR manager before deciding appropriate action (you may decide to take no further action); ; ask trade union representative or colleague who is a University employee to go with you to speak to the person; ; write to the person against whom you have a complaint; ; ask manager or senior manager to take matter up on your behalf (options managers will consider include: speaking to the person to explain complaint and giving them the opportunity to respond; obtaining
agreement that the behaviour has caused offence and will stop; meeting of both parties; monitoring
situation; consulting with any witnesses to clarify the situation; mediation through HR, if both parties
NB Where the person complained against is external to the Unit/University the matter will be taken up with the person or with an appropriate senior manager.
You may decide to work through several of the options.
If the behaviour causing you distress does not stop, you may wish to consider making a formal complaint.
If informal action has been unsuccessful or if the issue is of a serious nature you may decide to make a formal complaint
Your formal complaint should be made in writing to your line manager, a more senior manager, or the Director
of HR (if complaint is against your Head of Unit). You will be advised of timescale, and next stages.
Person against whom complaint is made will be given a copy of complaint, and Bullying and Harassment Policy, as soon as possible and will be given the opportunity to seek advice and respond (verbally or in writing). You will be shown a copy of any written response.
The Manager has the following options taking account of seriousness of allegations:
; discussion with both parties separately, to try to agree resolution;
; a joint meeting to try to resolve the issue;
; following initial discussions with both parties, and with agreement, mediation through HR to try to resolve;
; arrange an investigation within the Unit
; arrange for an independent investigation through an investigatory panel.
It may be appropriate for several of these options to be worked through, before satisfactory resolution.
; commitment that action will not be repeated;
; resolution e.g. through mediation;
; formal disciplinary action (serious bullying and harassment will be treated as gross misconduct);
; misunderstandings clarified and resolved;
NB Where the person complained against is external to the Unit/university the matter will be taken up with the
person or with an appropriate senior manager (either internal/external).
Bullying and Harassment Policy flowchart inside front cover
PART 1 Policy statement 4
1. Ensuring dignity at work 4
Rights and Responsibilities 4
Unacceptable behaviour 4
Impact of bullying and harassment 4
Staff management 4
Dealing with complaints 4
2. What are bullying and harassment? 5
2.1 Examples of unacceptable behaviour 5 3. Responsibilities 6
3.1 All staff 6
3.2 Managers and supervisors 6
3.3 Bullying and harassment advisers 6
3.4 Trade union representatives 7
3.5 Human Resources advisers/managers 7
PART 2 Informal approaches to dealing with bullying and harassment
issues and procedure for dealing with formal complaints 8
1. Timescales 8
2. Confidentiality 8
3. Group complaints 8
4. Complaints relating to disciplinary action 8 5. Accompaniment at meetings 8
6. Dealing with bullying and harassment issues 9
6.1 Actions to deal with complaints informally 9
6.2 Formal complaints 9
7. Action that will be taken by managers in response to a
7.1 Actions to deal with complaints informally 10
7.2 Formal complaints 11
8. Informal and formal complaints involving external customers,
suppliers, or students 12
9. Possible outcomes of a formal complaint 12 10. What to do if a complaint is made against you 12 11. Appeals 13
12. Victimization 13
13. Malicious allegations 13
14. What records will be held? 13
15. Monitoring and feedback 14
16. Former employees 14
PART 1 Policy statement
that remarks or actions are causing offence, 1. Ensuring dignity at work and that causing such offence is The purpose of this Policy is to assist in unacceptable.
developing and encouraging a working All complaints will be thoroughly environment and culture in which investigated. Breaches of the Policy may harassment and bullying are unacceptable. lead to the use of disciplinary procedures. The Policy explains what bullying and
harassment are, and what steps individuals Impact of bullying and harassment can take if they encounter such behaviour.
Bullying and harassment: Part 1 sets out the Policy in detail, and Part
2 covers informal approaches to dealing ; can have a devastating effect on an with bullying and harassment issues, the individual
procedures for making a complaint, and ; are offensive and degrading how complaints should be dealt with.
; may cause anxiety, loss of concentration, Rights and Responsibilities illness and absence from work
; can have a damaging effect on the All Open University staff have the right to
working environment, resulting in poor work in an environment which is free from
morale, higher turnover of staff and bullying and harassment. The University is
reduced productivity committed to providing a workplace in
which all employees are given the dignity ; could result in both a harasser and the and respect to which they are entitled. The University being held liable for damages, University has a legal responsibility to where legal claims are raised.
ensure the health and safety of staff and a
Staff management working environment which is free from
unlawful discrimination. Managers have a responsibility to issue
reasonable instructions and expect them to Everyone has a responsibility to respect the
be carried out. The legitimate management feelings and sensibilities of others in the
of staff should be distinguished from workplace, and to behave in a way which
bullying or harassing behaviour. However, does not cause offence. In some instances
it is important that consideration is given to individuals may be genuinely unaware that
style of dealing with others – managers their behaviour is causing offence, but it is
should not behave in a way that would the duty of each individual to be sensitive
generally be considered unreasonable. to the impact their conduct may have on
colleagues. Dealing with complaints
Unacceptable behaviour All complaints of bullying or harassment will
be taken seriously by the University. The Some behaviour can cause offence where
aim is to provide the support needed to there is no malicious intent. The impact of
help individuals decide the best course of behaviour on a person affected by it is more
action, and to resolve the issues raised. relevant than the motive behind it. It is
also relevant to ask the question: Would a The Procedure (Part 2 of this Policy) reasonable person think that the behaviour provides a framework for dealing with amounted to bullying or harassment? In complaints confidentially, fairly and in a most cases people know, or should know, consistent manner. It will also help to 4
resolve problems quickly and informally ; discriminating against someone for a wherever possible, without fear of reason relating for example to race, sex, victimization or retaliation. disability, age, religion or belief, sexual
orientation The University will also take seriously any
allegations proven to have been made
maliciously. ; unlawful violence such as physical blows
; unnecessary and unwanted physical
contact ranging from touching to serious 2. What are bullying and
assault harassment? ; indecent or sexual assault
The legal definition of harassment is that ; intrusion by pestering, spying, following, harassment occurs where a person is stalking, staring and leering; unwelcome subjected to unwanted conduct which has advances, attention, invitations or the purpose or effect of: propositions; sexual innuendo; coercion, ; violating their dignity or including promises of rewards in
exchange for sexual or other favours ; creating an intimidating, hostile,
degrading, humiliating or offensive ; public humiliation, derogatory or environment for them belittling remarks concerning job
performance or personal attributes, and having regard to all the circumstances,
shouting and/or sarcasm, personal insults including in particular the perception of the
and name-calling person being subjected to the unwanted
conduct, it should reasonably be considered ; constant unfounded criticism of the as having that effect. performance of work tasks
; unwelcome or lewd references to a Harassment is a form of discrimination, and
person’s physical features, figure or where it relates to race, sex, disability,
dress religion or belief, or sexual orientation (and
age from October 2006) is covered by anti-; unwelcome discussion of the effects of a discrimination legislation. disability on an individual’s personal life
Bullying overlaps to some extent, and is ; verbal and written harassment (e.g. via usually identified as intimidating, hostile or offensive letters, telephone or e-mail) humiliating treatment by one or more through jokes, racist remarks, taunts, individuals. offensive language, gossip and slander,
threats; derogatory name calling or One minor incident will not constitute ridicule for physical or cultural bullying or harassment. However, a series difference, physical impairment, or of such incidents will do so, particularly religious belief; electronic transmission where an employee has expressed a dislike of pornographic, racist, degrading or of such behaviour and/or has asked for it to indecent material stop. Threatened or actual violence, threats
; suggestive and unwelcome comments or of dismissal or promises of special
attitudes, insulting behaviour or obscene treatment in return for sexual favours, are
or offensive gestures examples where one incident would be
sufficient. ; removing areas of responsibility without
good reason, punishing with trivial tasks, 2.1 Examples of unacceptable setting an individual up for failure with behaviour impossible workloads and deadlines The following list provides a range of ; persistently ignoring or patronising a examples but is not exhaustive: person, isolation or non-co-operation at
work, exclusion from social activities
; visual displays of posters, graffiti, ; Resolve any incidents of bullying or emblems or other offensive material harassment of which they are aware. If (such as pin-ups or degrading/indecent/ bullying or harassment does occur, they pornographic material, racially offensive must deal effectively with the situation. material) ; Explain and promote awareness of the
University’s Policy to their staff; ensure
that each member of staff has been 3. Responsibilities
given a copy.
3.1 All staff ; Respond sensitively and supportively to
any member of staff who makes an ; Everyone has a responsibility to comply
allegation of harassment; provide clear with this Policy and all staff should advice on the procedure and timescales ensure that their behaviour towards
to be adopted by those making colleagues does not cause offence and
complaints and those against whom a could not in any way be considered to be complaint is made; maintain bullying or harassment.
confidentiality in accordance with this ; Differences in culture, attitudes and Policy; monitor the workplace to ensure experience, or the misinterpretation of that there is no problem of bullying or social signals, can mean that what is harassment, or of victimization after a perceived by the person experiencing the complaint has been made. behaviour as bullying and harassment,
; Act if they observe bullying and may be perceived by others as normal. It harassment occurring. Be alert to is important to be sensitive to the
unacceptable behaviour and take feelings and reactions of others and
appropriate action: managers do not adjust behaviour as necessary. have to wait until complaints are brought ; Staff should discourage bullying and to their attention if they are aware of harassment by making it clear that they behaviour of other managers or staff find such behaviour unacceptable and by which might cause offence. If the supporting colleagues who experience incident is not serious then calling the such treatment. Anyone who sees individual aside and carrying out some bullying or harassment happening in their ‘awareness-raising’ may be sufficient to area has a responsibility to take action. stop the behaviour. In more serious cases Unresolved incidents of bullying or disciplinary action may be appropriate. harassment need to be progressed and
; Ensure that staff know how to raise can be raised with a manager or problems, are aware of the Policy and supervisor, a bullying and harassment
procedures, and of sources of help and adviser, a trade union representative or
advice available (e.g. bullying and a team adviser/manager. harassment advisers).
3.2 Managers and supervisors 3.3 Bullying and harassment advisers Managers and supervisors should:
Anyone experiencing bullying or harassment ; Set a good example by treating all staff who wishes to talk about this in confidence with dignity and respect. can telephone a helpline in HR on extension ; Understand and implement the Policy 53236. They will be given a list of advisers and make every effort to ensure that who have received training in dealing with harassment and bullying do not occur, bullying and harassment problems. The list particularly in work areas for which they also appears on the HR intranet site –
are responsible. http://intranet.open.ac.uk/human-
resources/index.asp. An adviser will listen
in confidence to the complaint and help
clarify what courses of action are possible.
He/she will not attend meetings with third parties. An adviser will also be able to explain further about how the procedures work in practice, and to advise on the structure of a written complaint and provide information about other sources of help and advice.
An adviser will also provide impartial advice to employees who have been accused of bullying or harassment, including advice on the structure of a written response to a complaint.
NB It will not be appropriate for the same adviser to advise the complainant and the person complained against, or to provide advice to a member of staff in the same Unit.
3.4 Trade union representatives Trade union members who are raising a complaint, or have a complaint against them, can also talk confidentially to a representative of their trade union for advice and support. Trade union
representatives can also accompany their members to meetings which may result from a complaint under the procedure. 3.5 Human Resources
Will provide advice and support to managers in resolving complaints, and advise individuals (those raising a complaint and those complained against), on the procedures, and sources of help as appropriate.
PART 2 Informal approaches to dealing with bullying and harassment issues and procedure for
dealing with formal complaints
resolution of genuine complaints and 1. Timescales concerns. It may be possible to address such Informal and formal complaints will be complaints through indirect methods, e.g. dealt with as quickly as possible – this is in training initiatives, awareness-raising, everyone’s interests. A timescale for publicising the Bullying and Harassment dealing with each complaint will be agreed. Policy. There is a need to balance individual Normally this will comply with the confidentiality with the nature of the risk. timescales stated throughout the
procedures. Where this is not possible the
3. Group complaints parties involved will be kept fully informed
of the timescale. If several people are experiencing bullying
or harassment from the same source, and Whilst there is no absolute time limit, if you
complain as a group, individual statements wish to raise or report an incident, either
should be made. If a complaint is made informally or formally, it is advisable to do
against several people individual responses so as soon as possible after it has happened,
to complaints will be needed. Outcomes of because memories of an incident may fade.
complaints will be advised individually and A lapse of time may mean it is unreasonable
not to the group. for a complaint to be pursued.
4. Complaints relating to 2. Confidentiality
disciplinary action As a general principle confidentiality should
be agreed and maintained. However, where Where a member of staff is subject to a manager, adviser, or member of HR disciplinary action and complains that the believes there is an unacceptable risk to action is taken not for reasons of conduct or the complainant, or to another person, or capability, but which are related to bullying to the University, action will need to be and harassment this will normally be heard taken, and absolute confidentiality cannot at a disciplinary appeal meeting. be maintained. Information will only be
given to those who strictly need to know.
5. Accompaniment at The decision as to whether a complaint
should be progressed will normally rest with meetings the complainant, except where there is an
A trade union representative, or a friend or unacceptable risk, e.g. threats of violence,
colleague who is employed by the risk of damage to health. In such
University may accompany either party (or circumstances it will be necessary to take
a witness) to meetings which may result action under this procedure whether or not
from a complaint under these procedures. the complaint is in writing. If such action is
In making their choice the parties involved necessary the complainant will be notified
should bear in mind that it would not be and kept informed.
appropriate to insist on being accompanied If the complainant wishes to remain by a colleague whose presence would anonymous it may not be possible to take prejudice the hearing or who might have a any action, although the University will conflict of interests. seek to support all individuals in the
It is good practice to allow the companion behaviour is inappropriate or to participate as fully as possible in the
meeting, if the worker wishes: putting and
summing up the worker’s case, asking objectionable, or it may be that his/her witnesses questions, and reponding on the words or actions have been
worker’s behalf to any views expressed in misinterpreted. In such cases, the the meeting. The companion can also misunderstanding needs to be cleared up confer with the worker during the meeting. speedily. Even where the behaviour was However, the companion has no right to intentional, a swift and clear indication answer questions on the worker’s behalf (if that it is objectionable may prove present at the meeting), or to address the sufficient to stop it.
hearing if the worker does not wish it, or to ; Discuss the matter with a colleague, your 1prevent the worker from explaining their line manager or a more senior manager, case. your trade union representative, a
bullying and harassment adviser, or your
Team HR adviser/manager, before 6. Dealing with bullying and deciding what action is appropriate (see
harassment issues Part 1, Section 3 for information on
responsibilities). Following consultation There are various ways in which individuals you may decide to take no further action can deal with bullying or harassment either
(but see also under Confidentiality in informally or under the formal procedure.
Part 2, Section 2 above – it may Normally informal measures to address nevertheless be necessary to take action). complaints are in everyone’s interests to
ensure that issues are dealt with quickly, ; Ask a trade union representative or fairly and confidentially. (NB Managers colleague to go with you to speak to the observing bullying and harassment should person.
take action to resolve issues without a ; Write to the person against whom you complaint being made.) have a complaint being specific about
what offends you and asking for this 6.1 Actions to deal with complaints behaviour to stop. (Keep a copy of the informally letter in case further action becomes If you feel that you are being subjected to necessary.)
bullying or harassment the aim should be to ; Ask your manager or a more senior deal with this informally and as soon as manager to take the matter up on your possible, unless you consider the issue is of behalf.
a serious nature or informal actions have If you have worked through appropriate not resolved the matter. options from the list above and the issues You may find it helpful to make a note of are unresolved a formal complaint may be any incidents, so that you are clear about the next step.
what happened, when, where, and whether NB Actions that managers will take in anyone else was there. response to an informal complaint are set There are several possible courses of action out in 7.1.
in these circumstances. You can choose any
of the following:
; Talk to the person who is bullying or
harassing you, tell them about the behaviour that is causing you distress, 1 For Associate Lecturers your manager is your and ask for it to stop. This should be regionally based manager (and your Head of Unit is done as soon as possible. In some cases, the Regional Director)
For Residential School staff your manager is the the person may be unaware that his/her Course Director or the School Director
6.2 Formal complaints 7. Action that will be taken If the problem cannot be resolved by taking by managers in response to informal action, or if it is of a more serious
a complaint nature, you may decide to make a formal
complaint as follows: The manager receiving the complaint will
respond sensitively, provide advice about ; A formal complaint needs to be made in
the procedures and the next stages that will writing to the line manager, or a more
be involved, and the timescale. HR is senior manager (but see also Section 2
available to give advice and support. Every above – Confidentiality). A bullying and
effort will be made to deal with the matter harassment adviser, or a trade union
as quickly as possible. representative, or your Team HR
adviser/manager can be contacted for
7.1 Actions to deal with complaints advice if required.;
informally ; If the person being complained against is
Where action is to be taken by the manager, the Head of Unit then complaints should
this will be as follows: be addressed to the Director of HR.
; The signed complaint should contain the i. Speak to the person against whom the following details: when the incident(s) complaint has been made, explaining the happened (date and time); who the nature of the complaint, and who has complaint is being made against; the made it. Give him/her a copy of this nature of the incident and specific Policy drawing his/her attention to details; where the incident happened; section 10 which gives details of sources the names of any witnesses to the of help and advice. Give advice about incident; any action which has already the procedure that will be followed if a been taken. (Members of staff raising formal complaint is made, or if there is a complaints and members of staff against reoccurrence of the behaviour. whom complaints have been raised, ii. Give the person complained against the should not approach potential witnesses opportunity to respond (normally for to discuss the evidence that they can complaints being dealt with informally give once a formal complaint has been this is unlikely to be in writing; any submitted and the person against whom written complaint or written response it has been made has been informed.) will be made available to both parties). ; If the manager receiving the complaint NB sufficient time should be allowed for has been involved with trying to resolve the person complained against to seek it informally a more senior manager advice if required. should deal with the formal complaint
(normally the manager’s line manager). iii. Discuss with both parties separately
(normally within 10 working days of ; Heads of Units, where not involved in the
receiving the response to the complaint). investigation, will be advised of all Where the person complained against formal complaints and the outcome.
acknowledges that the behaviour has NB Actions that managers will take in taken place appropriate action will be response to a formal complaint are set out taken (e.g. a resolution is agreed in 7.2. between both parties; the person
complained against is told to stop and
the situation is monitored).
iv. If after separate discussions with the
parties involved it is clear that there are
differing views and perceptions of the
situation, a meeting of both parties and