We are committed to having an organisation that is free from harassment and bullying, and to ensuring that all staff, volunteers, members and others who come into contact with us in the course of our work are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, transgender status, marital or family status, colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, creed, culture, religion or belief, age or disability.
Striving to ensure that the charity is free of harassment and bullying and that everyone is treated with dignity and respect is central to ensuring equal opportunities in employment.
This policy and procedure is intended to support this commitment in practice and to provide guidance to staff, volunteers, members and all those involved with Sunnybank, on how to deal with concerns of bullying or harassment.
We will not tolerate bullying or harassment within any aspect of the work of the Sunnybank Trust. Whether the conduct is a one-off act or repeated course of conduct, and whether done purposefully or not. Neither will we tolerate retaliation against, or victimisation of, any person involved in bringing a complaint of harassment or bullying. Retaliation or victimisation will also constitute a disciplinary offence, which may in appropriate circumstances lead to dismissal.
We will take appropriate action if any of member, staff, or volunteer of the Sunnybank Trust is bullied or harassed by any of our stakeholders.
Allegations of bullying and harassment will be treated seriously. Investigations will be carried out promptly, sensitively and, as far as possible, confidentially. If, after an investigation, we decide that there is evidence of harassment or bullying of an employee, volunteer, member or any other stakeholder, then the person responsible for the bullying or harassment may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from their role or access to the Sunnybank Trust.
Anyone who makes allegations of bullying or harassment in good faith will not be treated less favourably as a result. False accusations of harassment or bullying can have a serious effect on innocent individuals. However, all staff, volunteers and others have a responsibility not to make false allegations. False allegations made in bad faith will be dealt with under our disciplinary procedure.
2. What type of treatment amounts to bullying or harassment?
Bullying or harassment is something that has happened that is unwelcome, unwarranted and causes a detrimental effect. If a person within Sunnybank complain they are being bullied or harassed, then they have a grievance which must be dealt with regardless of whether or not their complaint accords with a standard definition. For further information, please refer to ACAS guidance.
It is important to recognise that conduct which one person may find acceptable, another may find totally unacceptable. All stakeholders within the Sunnybank Trust must therefore treat others within the charity with respect and appropriate sensitivity.
Bullying does not include appropriate criticism of an employee’s behaviour or proper performance management.
3. Reporting concerns
The remainder of this policy refers to the procedures to be followed for anyone within Sunnybank who believes they have been bullied or have witnessed bullying.
What you should do if you witness an incident you believe to harassment or bullying
If you witness such behaviour you should report the incident in confidence to the appropriate manager. Such reports will be taken seriously and will be treated in strict confidence as far as it is possible to do so.
What you should do if you feel you are being bullied or harassed by a stakeholder
If you are being bullied or harassed by someone with whom you come into contact at work, please raise this with your manager in the first instance or with the Chief Executive. We will then decide how best to deal with the situation, in consultation with you.
What you should do if you are being bullied or harassed by a colleague
If you are being bullied or harassed by another member of staff, there are two possible avenues for you, informal or formal.
What you should do if you are being bullied or harassed by the Chief Executive or member of the trustee board.
If you are being bullied by the Chief Executive or a member of the trustee board, you should raise the issue with the trustee who handles all safeguarding. If, however, the safeguarding trustee is the member in question, then you will raise it either with the Chief Executive or Chair of the board. They will discuss with you the option of trying to resolve the situation informally as above or formally as above.
3.1. Informal Resolution
If you are being bullied or harassed by an employee, you may be able to resolve the situation yourself by explaining clearly to the perpetrator(s) that their behaviour is unacceptable, contrary to our policy and must stop.
Alternatively, you may wish to ask your manager to put this on your behalf or to be with you when confronting the perpetrator(s).
If the above approach does not work or if you do not want to try to resolve the situation in this way, or if you are being bullied by your own manager, you should raise the issue with the Chief Executive.
The chief executive will discuss with you the option of trying to resolve the situation informally by:
telling the alleged perpetrator(s), without prejudging the matter, that there has been a complaint that their behaviour is having an adverse effect on a fellow employee
that such behaviour is contrary to our policy
that the continuation of such behaviour could amount to a serious disciplinary offence.
It may be possible for the Chief Executive to have this conversation with the alleged perpetrator without revealing your name, if this is what you want. They will also stress that the conversation is confidential.
In certain circumstances we may be able to involve a neutral third party (a mediator) to facilitate a resolution of the problem. The chief executive will discuss this with you if it is appropriate.
If your complaint is resolved informally, the alleged perpetrator(s) will not usually be subject to disciplinary sanctions. However, in exceptional circumstances (such as a serious allegation of sexual or racial harassment or in cases where a problem has happened before) we may decide to investigate further and take more formal action notwithstanding that you raised the matter informally. We will consult with you before taking this step.
3.2. Raising a formal complaint (ref Complaints and Grievance policies)
If informal resolution is unsuccessful or inappropriate, you can make a formal complaint about the harassment or bullying to your manager or the chief executive. A formal complaint may ultimately lead to disciplinary action against the perpetrator(s).
We will first investigate the complaint. You will need to co-operate with the investigation and provide the following details (if not already provided):
The name of the alleged perpetrator(s)
The nature of the harassment or bullying
The dates and times the harassment or bullying occurred
The names of any witnesses
Any action taken by you to resolve the matter informally
The alleged perpetrator(s) would need to be told your name and the details of your complaint in order for the issue to be investigated properly. However, we will carry out the investigation as confidentially and sensitively as possible. Where you and the alleged perpetrator(s) work in proximity to each other, we will consider whether it is appropriate to separate you while the matter is being investigated.
After the investigation, we will meet with you to consider the complaint and the findings of the investigation. At the meeting, you may be accompanied by a colleague.
After the meeting (and normally within five working days) we will write to you to inform you of our decision and to notify you of your right to appeal to a more senior manager if you are dissatisfied with the outcome. You should submit your appeal in writing to the Chair of the Board of Trustees within 1 week of receipt of the Chief Executive's written decision.
The Chair of the Board of Trustees will inform the member of the Trustee Board who has been nominated by the Board to hear disciplinary and grievance appeals and that Trustee will convene an appeal hearing to consider the details. The nominated Trustee will hear the case within four weeks of receipt of your letter and the outcome will be provided in writing to you within one week. The decision of the Trustee hearing the appeal will be final. We will write to you afterwards to confirm our final decision.
3.3. Use of the disciplinary procedure (ref Disciplinary Policy)
Harassment and bullying constitute serious misconduct. If, at any stage from the point at which a complaint is raised, we believe there is a case to answer and a disciplinary offence might have been committed, we will instigate our disciplinary procedure.
Any employee found to have harassed or bullied a colleague will be liable to disciplinary action up to and including summary dismissal.
Any volunteer or other stakeholder within Sunnybank found to have harassed or bullied another colleague within Sunnybank will have their involvement within Sunnybank terminated.