Human Resources

Support & well-being

Harassment and Bullying Policy

This policy and procedure applies to all employees, contractors and visitors of Loughborough University. The policy has been developed to ensure that all members of the University understand what types of behaviour are acceptable within the University. The rights and responsibilities of all parties are clearly outlined.

This University is committed to fostering an environment where its staff, visitors and contractors can work free from intimidation, aggression, coercion and victimisation. The University is particularly concerned to eliminate all forms of harassment and bullying as it recognises that such behaviour is unacceptable, discriminatory and, in certain circumstances, also unlawful.

All incidents will be taken seriously and could provide grounds for disciplinary action that may lead to dismissal from the University. Furthermore, individuals who harass or bully may be subject to criminal and/or civil prosecution.

All University staff, visitors and contractors are responsible for helping to ensure that individuals do not suffer harassment or bullying in any form. If, however, bullying or harassment does occur there are a number of actions individuals can take.

All line managers, as part of their managerial responsibilities, have a legal obligation to eliminate harassment of which they are, or should be, aware. All individuals will be personally accountable for their behaviour, actions and/or lack of actions in cases of complaint of harassment or bullying.

Equality and Diversity Statement

It is the aim of the University to provide a harassment and bullying policy that ensures all members of the University understand their rights and responsibilities when engaging with other members of the University.

This document takes into account the current employment and equality legislation and must be implemented in conjunction with the University’s Single Equality Scheme and Equality and Diversity policy and procedure.

Guiding principles

Bullying and harassment are unacceptable forms of behaviour and contrary to the University’s aims of fostering an environment where its staff, visitors and contractors will be treated with dignity and respect. Additionally, bullying and harassment can prevent effective performance and creativity, instead causing increased illness, absenteeism, underachievement and reduced opportunities. It also represents a waste of human resources and a denial of opportunity for individual fulfilment.

Bullying and harassment are behaviours which, if based on a person’s sex, race, disability, religion, age,gender reassignment or sexual orientation, are unlawful. Additionally, there are legal implications coming from Health and Safety legislation. Any bullying and harassment may be a source of great distress to the recipient and the University has a legal ‘duty of care’ under Health and Safety legislation to protect its staff.

Responsibilities

The co-operation of all University staff, contractors and visitors is essential to ensure the success of this policy. All individuals will be held personally accountable for their actions, lack of actions and behaviour in cases of complaint of harassment or bullying. Managers and supervisors have a particular responsibility for eliminating any form of harassment or bullying. Those in positions of authority or trust should be especially careful that this power is not misused.

All staff have a clear role to play in acknowledging, challenging and eliminating harassment. The University is committed to acting positively to resolve issues of harassment and bullying and is involved in a programme of staff training to heighten awareness about these important matters and to contribute to their prevention. Any individual who wishes to find out more about harassment or bullying, its impact, strategies for prevention, including training, or publications available, should contact the Confide Coordinator for further information.

Definitions

Harassment or bullying can take many forms, often involving the abuse of power or position and may be a single event, sporadic events or a continuing process. Both harassment and bullying refer to behaviours which, deliberately or otherwise, are hostile and/or offensive to the recipient or others and which unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work, academic performance or social life. Harassment or bullying may involve apparently insignificant acts which cumulatively create an intimidating environment that undermines the integrity or dignity of the individual. Unacceptable behaviour ranges from violence and threats to ignoring people. In all cases, harassment and bullying are unwelcome and can make an individual feel uncomfortable, unsafe, frightened or embarrassed. Such behaviours may be expressed verbally or non-verbally via traditional or electronic communications, or by physical actions. The common link is that the behaviour is unwanted by the recipient or others, is unwarranted by the relationship and would be regarded as harassment or bullying by any reasonable person. Examples of types of behaviour covered by this policy are given below. The list is not intended to be exclusive and other issues, could form the basis of a harassment case.

Bullying: is a complex phenomenon of unwanted offensive and malicious behaviour which undermines an individual or group through persistently negative attacks. There is typically an unpredictable and irrational abuse of power or position that can manifest itself in physical, verbal or non-verbal forms. There is usually an element of vindictiveness attached to bullying and the behaviour is calculated to undermine, patronise, humiliate, intimidate or demean the recipient.

Stalking: is a form of harassment which is being more commonly reported. It involves pestering an individual, either in person or in writing or electronic formats or on the telephone. Stalking can also involve following an individual or spying on them, alarming the recipient or causing them distress and may involve violence or fear of violence.

Harassment: is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation) which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”. Offensive behaviour that is not directed at an individual can still be classed as harassment by that individual and harassment due to perception and association of a protected characteristic is also not acceptable. Further information on the various types of harassment can be found below:

Sexual Harassment: is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature. It includes unwanted attention of a sexual nature that denigrates or ridicules or is intimidating. This may be physical, ranging from unwanted touching, groping or the invasion of personal space to sexual assault, rape or indecent exposure. Sexual harassment can be verbal and may include unwanted personal comments or sexual slurs, belittling, suggestive, lewd or abusive remarks, explicit ‘jokes’ or innuendo, and compromising invitations, including demands for sexual favours. Examples of non-verbal sexual harassment include: suggestive looks, leering, explicit gestures, sending sexually explicit emails or the display of pornographic material on University equipment or premises. (The IT implications are discussed further in the University’s IT Acceptable Use Policy). Most commonly, the reported incidents refer to the sexual harassment of women by men, although there are reports of women sexually harassing men and of same sex sexual harassment.

The University will not tolerate harassment on the grounds of pregnancy, maternity leave, marital statuts or civil partnership status. Sex-based harassment, which is harassment on the grounds of someone’s gender is also prohibited.

Racial Harassment: is unwanted behaviour based on race, ethnic or national origin. It includes written or verbal threats or insults based on race, ethnicity or skin colour, abusive comments about racial origins, ridicule based on cultural grounds, derogatory name calling, racist jokes, damage to property, the display of offensive graffiti or insignia and incitement of others to commit any of the above.

Religious or Belief Harassmentis unwanted behaviour based on religious beliefs or practices. This may take many forms including ridiculing items worn for religious reasons, denigrating cultural customs and dismissive treatment of requests for holidays for religious or cultural festivals, or derisory comments against an individual’s beliefs. It includes the incitement or persistent pressure through forms of evangelism and religious propaganda that suggests the answer no is unacceptable to the person trying to spread their ideas on religion or recruiting to their particular group.  Regardless of an individual's cultural/religious beliefs about different lifestyle choices (e.g. pertaining to gender, sexuality, dress), such beliefs must not manifest themselves in breach of the University's equal opportunities policies or legislation.

Disability Harassment: is unwanted behaviour based on disability, impairment or additional need. Such behaviour may include comments that are patronising or objectionable to the recipient or which creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for people with disabilities. Disability harassment includes inappropriate reference to disability, unwelcome discussion of the impact of disability, refusal to work with and exclusion of people with disabilities from social events or meetings.

Sexual Orientation Harassment: is unwanted behaviour based on known or presumed sexual orientation. Such behaviour includes name calling, stereotyping, assault, verbal abuse, actual or threatened unwanted disclosure of sexuality, derogatory comments, excluding same-sex partners from social events or intrusive questioning about a person’s domestic circumstances.

Age Harassment: is unwanted behaviour based on a person’s age which can include stereotyping, assault, inappropriate reference to age, unwelcome discussion on the age of an individual and making generalisations about a person’s ability based on their age.

Gender Identity, Transgender or Gender Reassignment Harassment: is ‘treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment’. It is unwanted behaviour based on known or presumed gender identity. Such behaviour includes name calling, continually using the wrong pronoun instead of the preferred pronoun, stereotyping, assault, verbal abuse, actual or threatened unwanted disclosure of the person’s previous gender, derogatory comments, excluding partners from social events or intrusive questioning about a person’s personal, medical and social circumstances. The various examples of unwanted behaviours as outlined under ‘Sexual Harassment’ also apply.

Third Party Harassment: is where a member of the University is harassed by people who are not employed by the University. The University recognises that its employees deal with a variety of external organisations and bodies and that it is feasible that staff may feel harassed by a third party during the course of their work. The University will not tolerate staff being harassed by a third party and where such incidents are disclosed, will take appropriate action. Staff are encouraged to report any incidents of third party harassment to their Head of School/Department or to a member of Confide

Cases of Physical Assault: physical assault is a criminal offence and it is important that victims seek help immediately. If a case of assault is being pursued through the Criminal Courts, the University will need to consider at what stage it is appropriate to initiate its internal procedures. During this period every effort will be made to ensure that you are given support and are not isolated.

Harassment complaints procedure

Staff are encouraged to try to resolve incidents of harassment and bullying informally, where possible. A support network, called Confide is available to provide advice and support to staff who are feeling harassed and/or bullied.

The University recognises however, that in some instances it may not be possible to resolve issues informally and on some occasions, informal attempts at resolution may fail. In these circumstances, staff members of the University should submit a formal complaint of harassment and/or bullying in accordance with the grievance procedure.

Confide: On campus support network

Confide consists of a variety of staff from across the University who have received training in dealing with cases of harassment and bullying and are available to talk to staff in confidence. They offer support, advice and assistance in seeking a satisfactory solution to the issues raised. Confide members are willing to discuss any incidents or problems, no matter how serious or trivial they may seem.

Staff may seek an informal, confidential meeting with a member of Confide at any time. Following an informal meeting with a member of Confide, further action will not normally be taken without the individual’s expressed permission, (disclosures of child abuse for example do have to be reported to the relevant Authorities).

Confidentiality

Due to the sensitive nature, complaints of harassment or discrimination will be investigated with particular care and will remain, where possible, confidential. The purpose of this provision is to protect the confidentiality of the person making the complaint and the reputation of the person being complained about until the matter has been resolved. If it is deemed that the safety of an individual(s) is at risk of serious harm, confidentiality in these circumstances may be overridden by legal obligations to disclose.

Informal action

Members of the University who are feeling harassed and/or bullied are encouraged to deal with the matter informally if possible. It is advisable to keep records of incidents and copies of any emails etc incase the matter is escalated at a later date. Members of Confide are available to support individuals in dealing with the matter informally.

There are a number of ways in which the matter can be dealt with informally including:

  • Approaching the individual who is responsible and make it clear to them that their actions or comments are unwanted and offensive .
  • Approaching the Dean/Director of Service, or other person in authority and ask them to intervene.
  • Writing a letter to the individual concerned explaining that their behaviour is not acceptable.

There may be situations where the informal route is not appropriate or where protracted attempts to resolve the issue informally have failed. In these circumstances, the only way forward may be to formalise the complaint. 

Formal action

Members of the University who wish to submit a formal complaint of harassment and/or bullying should do so in accordance with the grievance procedure.

Victimisation

Anyone seeking advice, making a complaint or assisting in an investigation shall be offered support and protection against intimidation, victimisation or discrimination. Retaliation against an individual for complaining about harassment is a disciplinary offence.

False complaints

The University takes seriously false accusations of harassment and bullying and if an individual brings a complaint that is found to be mischievous or malicious then appropriate action will be taken. This may include disciplinary proceedings.

Monitoring

References made to Confide under the informal and formal procedures will be monitored on an annual basis. The monitoring process will report to the Equality and Diversity Sub-Committee and the Human Resources Working Group and statistical information about harassment and bullying within the University will be produced by the Confide Coordinator. Names of individuals and departments concerned with incidents will not be published. Where patterns of harassment are identified, the University will take appropriate action to address the problem.