Policy: Bullying and Harassment Policy

Author: Hayley Faulkner (Quality Director)

Review date: 20/08/2020

Next review date: 20/08/2021


Swift recognises that all employees have a right to work in an environment in which the dignity of individuals is respected and which is free from harassment and bullying. It is committed to eliminating intimidation in any form.

This Policy applies to harassment on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity marriage and civil partnership, gender reassignment, race, age, religion or belief, or disability.

Harassment breaches the Company's Equal Opportunities Policy and it is classified as a serious offence which may result in summary dismissal under the Disciplinary Procedure.

Bullying and harassment is not necessarily face to face, it may occur through written communications, visual images (for example pictures of a sexual nature or embarrassing photographs of colleagues), email, phone, and automatic supervision methods – such as computer recording of downtime from work, or recording of telephone conversations – if these are not universally applied to all workers.

Employees can complain of behaviour that they find offensive even if it is not directed at them.


1.1 For the purpose of this policy harassment is described as per the Equality Act 2010 as " The essential characteristic of harassment is that the action(s) is unwanted by the recipient. is “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, 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”. The relevant protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation

1.2 General Harassment

Harassment can take many forms and may be directed in particular against women and ethnic minorities or towards people because of their age, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or some other characteristic. It may involve action, behaviour, comment or physical contact which is found objectionable or which causes offence; it can result in the recipient feeling threatened, humiliated or patronised and it can create an intimidating work environment. Harassment related to protected characteristics is specifically outlawed by the Equality Act 2010.

1.3 Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can be defined as an uninvited, unreciprocated and unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature which is offensive to the person involved and causes that person to feel threatened, humiliated or embarrassed. Examples of sexual harassment are:

* requests for sexual favours, including implied or overt promises of preferential treatment or threats concerning present or future employment status;
* offensive gestures or comments, sexually-orientated jibes, innuendo or jokes and/or the display of sexually offensive visual material such as calendars, photographs, books or videos.
* unwanted physical contact;
Sexual harassment may be experienced by men or women as a result of the conduct of men or women. It applies equally regardless of grade or level of job and may also occur when dealing with external clients and/or members of the public.
Harassment of a sexual nature is specifically outlawed by the Equality Act 2010.

1.4 Racial or Sectarian Harassment
In the workplace, racial or sectarian harassment may take the form of actual or threatened physical abuse or it may involve offensive jokes, verbal abuse, language, graffiti or literature of a racist or sectarian nature or offensive remarks about a person's skin colour, physical characteristics or religion. It may also include repeated exclusion of a person from an ethnic or religious minority from conversations, patronising remarks, unfair allocation of work or pressure about the speed and/or quality of their work in a way which differs from the treatment of other employees. Harassment related to racial or sectarian characteristics is harassment due to protected characteristics and is specifically outlawed by the Equality Act 2010.

1.5 Bullying
Bullying is the intimidation or belittling of someone through the misuse of power or position that leaves the recipient feeling hurt, upset, vulnerable or helpless. It is often inextricably linked to the areas of harassment described above.
The following are examples of bullying (not exhaustive):
• Unjustified criticism of an individual’s personal or professional performance, shouting at an individual, criticising an individual in front of others.
• Spreading malicious rumours or making malicious allegations.
• Intimidation or ridicule of individuals with disabilities and /or learning difficulties.
• Ignoring or excluding an individual from the team / Company
• insulting someone by word or behaviour
• copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know
• making threats or comments about job security without foundation
• deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and constant criticism

2. Responsibilities of Managers
2.1 Every manager has an obligation to prevent harassment / bullying and to take immediate action once it has been identified whether or not a complaint has been made.
2.2 Allegations of harassment or bullying received either informally or formally through the Grievance Procedure must be dealt with promptly and sensitively.
2.3 It is important that managers recognise that sexual harassment is any sexual advance unwanted by the recipient or behaviour that causes offence to the recipient. Similarly, racial harassment is behaviour that is racially offensive to the recipient. Managers must therefore take care to ensure that they do not pre-judge situations based on their own sexual or racial attitudes and perceptions.
2.4 It may not always be appropriate for a line manager to be involved with specific complaints. For example, if the complainant is male and wishes to speak to a male, but the manager is female, or, if the complaint relates to the conduct of the line manager. The procedure in Section 6 sets out the alternatives for such instances.

3. Responsibilities of Employees
3.1 Every employee has a personal responsibility NOT to harass or bully other members of staff.
3.2 An employee who becomes aware of harassment or bullying occurring should bring the matter to the attention of his/her manager.

4. Redress
4.1 An employee who feels that he/she has been harassed or bullied has a right to seek redress via the procedures set out below.

5. Procedure
5.1 An employee who feels that he/she is being subjected to harassment or bullying may attempt to resolve the matter informally in the first instance. In some cases, it may be possible and sufficient for him/her to explain clearly to the person(s) engaged in the unwanted activities that the behaviour is unwelcome, that it offends or makes him/her uncomfortable.
• If at the initial informal discussion stage, the circumstances are too difficult or embarrassing to approach the harasser alone, the complainant may wish to be accompanied by a friend or colleague;
• the complainant may wish to write a letter to the harasser (research suggests this to be effective).
• the complainant should keep a record of any incidents, detailing when, where, what occurred, and witnesses (if any);
• in some cases, victims of harassment or bullying may not be sufficiently confident to tell the harasser that his or her behaviour is unacceptable. The Company emphasises therefore that staff are not required to approach the harasser in an attempt to resolve the problem informally and are entitled to report the matter immediately if they so wish.
5.2 Where the steps outlined in 5.1 above are unsuccessful or inappropriate, the complainant should raise the matter informally and in confidence with his/her manager. Alternatively, the matter may be raised with a senior manager of the same sex as the complainant.
5.3 If the complaint relates to the conduct of the complainant's manager, the complainant may choose to discuss the matter with his/her manager's line manager.
5.4 The Manager will discuss the matter with the complainant and agree a course of action. The complainant may be accompanied by a representative or colleague at these meetings. The alleged harasser will also have the right to state their version of events to the manager and to also be accompanied by a representative or colleague. The right to be accompanied at grievance hearings is set out in the Employment Relations Act 1999.
5.5 The complainant must be assured that he/she will not be discriminated against or victimised for raising the complaint. Confidentiality will be observed throughout and the need for any disclosure of the details of the case will be discussed and agreed.

5.6 At any stage of the process the complainant, the manager dealing with the complaint or the accused may feel that they need the help of an independent person before deciding on the best course of action. The Company will provide a network of persons who can give confidential advice and assistance. These individuals will generally be employees of the Company trained in harassment matters; however the Company will also maintain an individual who is external to the Company should that be more appropriate for the individual who requires assistance. The name and method of contact for these trained individuals can be supplied confidentially from the management.
5.7 If the situation cannot be resolved informally then the complainant has the right to pursue his or her complaint formally via the Company's Grievance Procedure.
5.8 Where management consider that there may be evidence of harassment, they may consider it appropriate to undertake a full investigation of the circumstances. In this case a manager not connected with the department involved, or an individual external to the Company will be commissioned to undertake this investigation. Best practice in relation to confidentiality will be maintained during this investigation; and both the complainant and alleged harasser will have the opportunity to have their say. The investigator will also interview and take statements from any appropriate witnesses to the alleged harassment.
5.9 Where there is evidence that harassment has occurred, prompt and corrective action will be taken, including disciplinary action where appropriate. Harassment is a serious offence that may result in summary dismissal.

6. Monitoring and Review
6.1 The Senior Management Team will be responsible for monitoring and reviewing the Policy.
6.2 Monitoring will include assessing how this policy is working in practice, reviewing it annually, and considering and taking action to address any issues