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Dignity at work policy

(This policy should be read in conjunction with IHOLimited’s Equality and Diversity Policy).

IHOLimited (“the Company”) is committed to dignity at work and aims to make equality of opportunity a reality and to create a working environment which is safe for, supportive of, and does not discriminate against, its employees.

We believe everyone should be treated fairly and with respect and everyone is entitled to a working environment which is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation.

We aim to increase awareness among managers and employees of their rights as well as their responsibilities in this area. Training will become part of our induction procedures and this will be supplemented by, as and when required, update training and development activity.

Incidents of discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation will be taken seriously. Certain incidents may be unlawful while others could lead to disciplinary action including dismissal. Wherever possible we hope that issues raised can be resolved through the informal procedures set out below, and that the parties involved can reach acceptable and positive resolutions.

An equally serious view will be taken of false accusations made against colleagues that prove to be mischievous or malicious. The Company will support and consider the welfare of all parties.

It is important to distinguish between legitimately firm management and an unacceptable abuse of power. All managers are responsible for ensuring that employees who report to them perform to an acceptable standard. Bullying therefore does not include legitimate, justifiable appropriately conducted criticism of conduct or work performance.

The Company will ensure it complies with all its statutory obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

The Company aspires to best practice and aims to fulfil its moral as well as legal responsibilities to provide a suitable working environment and promote a culture in which you feel able to raise complaints of discrimination, harassment or bullying without fear of victimisation. The Company will not tolerate discrimination against, or harassment of, any individual over an extended range of circumstances. These include (although this list is not exhaustive) the following protective characteristics:

  • Gender (including sex and gender re-assignment);
  • Race (including ethnic origin, colour, nationality and national origin);
  • Disability;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Religion or belief;
  • Age;
  • Marital or civil partnership status;
  • Pregnancy and maternity;
  • Membership or non-membership of a trade union;
  • Any other individual difference.

Definitions

Direct discrimination
Direct discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of a protected characteristic they have or are thought to have (see perceptive discrimination below), or because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic (see associative discrimination below).
Associative discrimination

This is direct discrimination against someone because they associate with another person who possesses a protected characteristic.

Perceptive discrimination
This is direct discrimination against an individual because others think they possess a particular protected characteristic. It applies even if the person does not actually possess that characteristic.

Indirect discrimination
Indirect discrimination can occur when a condition, rule, policy or a practice that applies to everyone but particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic.

Harassment

  • Harassment may be any form of behaviour that is unwanted, unreciprocated and offensive 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. Harassment is discriminatory in nature.
  • You have a responsibility to be aware that there is a distinction between consensual behaviour and conduct which is not desired by a colleague.
  • Acceptable behaviour for some may be intimidating, upsetting, embarrassing, humiliating or offensive to others.
  • Harassment can take place within the workplace but employees’ behaviour relating to colleagues outside the workplace is also covered by this policy.
  • Harassment can be verbal or non-verbal. It may include (but the list is not exhaustive):
    – jokes, comments or suggestions
    – abuse, insults, ridicule or threats
    – physical contact
    – physical or verbal sexual advances
    – display of/transmission of pornography or sexually suggestive pictures or written material
    – derogatory nicknames or racist name calling.
  • It might relate to one single serious incident or to less serious but persistent behaviour.
  • You can make a complaint if you find harassment is occurring to someone else and is not directed at you.
  • Harassment can occur by a third party e.g. a service user or contractor and you can make a complaint against a third party if harassment has occurred on at least two previous occasions.

Bullying

  • Bullying is unwanted and unacceptable conduct that intentionally or unintentionally offends, humiliates, belittles, insults, demeans, undermines, denigrates, victimises or injures and has a detrimental effect on the recipient.
  • It will rarely be a single incident and is more likely to be an accumulation of small incidents which when taken in isolation and out of context may seem trivial. The person being bullied may not realise it is happening for some time.
  • Victims are often chosen because they are competent, popular or vulnerable for some reason.
  • Bullying behaviour may include (but the list is not exhaustive):
    – rage, shouting or loss of temper
    – emotional, tearful outbursts
    – persistent unwarranted criticism
    – public humiliation or ridicule
    – spreading malicious rumours/making malicious allegations
    – wilful misrepresentation
    – ostracism
    – removal of responsibility or infliction of menial tasks
    – undervaluing contribution
    – imposition of excessive workloads or unreasonable targets
    – unwarranted, excessive supervision
    – withholding essential information, resources or training.
  • Bullying can take place across peer groups and between members of different teams, interest groups or social groups.
  • Bullies can operate individually or as a group.
  • Bullying does not include legitimate, justifiable, appropriately conducted criticism of your conduct or work performance.

Victimisation
Victimisation is where a person is treated less favourably because they have, for example, brought a grievance, given evidence, blown the whistle, complained or taken disciplinary action.

Informal resolution
Although the Company supports informal resolution of problems if possible and appropriate, certain acts or forms of behaviour perpetrated by individuals or groups against an individual will, by definition, fall into a category which requires action through the disciplinary procedure.

Informal resolution would involve both parties initially attempting to solve the problem themselves. The individual who feels they are being unfairly treated should approach the person they feel is treating them in this way, and have an open discussion about the situation which should include all the issues they feel are unsatisfactory.

Where possible it is essential that you attempt to resolve the situation in this way because it can be the case that the individual’s conduct towards you is unaware that their actions are having such a negative effect.

However, depending on the nature of the actions involved and the character of the alleged perpetrator, you may feel unable to take this step and deal with the issues in what you might consider to be a very intimidating meeting. In these circumstances you are encouraged to ask a colleague or a member of your union for their advice and assistance and/or to support you in raising your concerns with the alleged perpetrator.

If you are approached to support a colleague you must be aware that if you feel the matter is sufficiently serious you are obliged to bring the matter to the attention of an appropriate manager. Although these issues should remain confidential wherever possible, anyone approached to support a colleague cannot guarantee confidentiality and must bring to the Company’s attention anything they are aware of that impacts on the Company’s duty of care to its employees.
If approached for general advice or support, which does not involve discussions with the alleged perpetrator, the alleged victim’s supporter should be aware that the alleged perpetrator should be given the opportunity to defend them self and beware of being drawn into supporting issues raised with malicious intent.

Grievance and disciplinary procedures
If the accused person feels the issues raised are unfounded and have no substance and/or refuses to discuss them, then the person making the allegations will need to decide if they want to take the issue through the Company’s grievance procedure.

If you feel you are the victim of discrimination, harassment, bullying, or victimisation and do not want to follow the informal steps outlined above you should raise these issues through the Company’s grievance procedure.
If you feel someone else is the victim of discrimination, harassment, bullying or victimisation these should be referred to your line manager or the Head of People and Development.

Matters covered by the Dignity at Work Policy will be dealt with, as appropriate to the circumstances, under the Company’s grievance or disciplinary procedure. All complaints will be treated seriously and investigated with all possible speed, confidentiality and sensitivity. If a complaint about an employee is substantiated following an investigation, it will be dealt with as misconduct under those procedures.

Counselling Support
If you wish to speak to somebody outside of IHOL about the difficulties you are experiencing, below are some useful advice and support agencies:

Equality and Human Rights Commission www.equalityhumanrights.com 

ACAS www.acas.org.uk or Citizens Advice Bureau www.adviceguide.org.uk

Local Law Centres www.lawcentres.org.uk