Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure
Original Version Written: June 2009
Policy It Supersedes (if applicable) Not applicable
Date Reviewed : Not applicable
Date Approved by HR Governance October 2009
Implementation Date: 1st April 2010
Document Version Number: 1.0
Policy Owner’s Job Title: Human Resources Manager
Policy Owner’s Contact Number: 020 8812 7651
Equality Impact Assessment October 2009
Next Review Date: April 2012
This policy can only be considered valid when viewed via the Wandsworth PCT website.
If this document is printed into hard copy or saved to another location, you must check
that the version number on your copy matches that of the one online.
1.0 Rationale 3
2.0 Purpose 3
3.0 Legislative framework 4
4.0 Responsibility for implementation of the policy 4
5.0 Scope 5
6.0 Complementary Policies and Procedures 10
7.0 Board and Chief Executive Policy Statement 12
8.0 Employee Support 16
9.0 Confidentiality 16
10.0 Workplace representation 18
11.0 Reasonable adjustments 20
12.0 Raising a concern regarding bullying, harassment and 20
13.0 Informal Action 21
14.0 Mediation 22
15.0 Formal Stage 23
16.0 Formal Stage 1 23
17.0 The Appeal Stage 27
18.0 Monitoring The Policy 28
Appendix A 27
Appendix B 28
Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure
The rationale of this policy and procedure is:
1.1. To set out Wandsworth Teaching Primary Care Trust’s position regarding
unacceptable conduct and unfair treatment at work within the context of the duty of
mutual trust and confidence between the PCT and its employees, the PCT’s duty to
provide a safe and healthy working environment, and the PCT’s specific duty with
regard to race, gender and disability to:
Promote equality of opportunity;
Promote good relations;
Promote positive attitudes;
Eliminate unlawful discrimination.
Thereby promoting dignity at work.
1.2. To provide a clear and robust process for the resolution of individual allegations
relating to bullying, harassment and victimisation that employees raise with
Wandsworth Teaching Primary Care Trust (the PCT), as their employer, and that fall
within the scope of this procedure;
1.3. To inform employees of other mechanisms through which they may raise
individual concerns, problems and complaints, including those which do not
personally affect the employee wishing to raise them.
The purpose of this policy and procedure are:
2.1. To effectively contribute to the creation and maintenance of good working
relations, positive behaviour, equality and high performance at all levels of the
organisation by setting out a fair, transparent, consistent and efficient process for
the resolution of employee allegations relating to bullying, harassment and
2.2. To assist all employees to understand the conduct and motivations that may
constitute bullying, harassment and victimisation;
2.3. To set out the role and responsibilities of managers in dealing with allegations
of bullying, harassment and victimisation;
2.4. To set out the role and responsibilities of managers in taking appropriate action
where they become aware of inappropriate behaviour in circumstances were no
complaint has been made;
2.5. To enable employees to distinguish the type of concern that should be raised
under the Dignity at work procedure, and other PCT procedures;
2.6. To ensure that the PCT complies with relevant legislation and regulatory
3.0 Legislative Framework
3.1. Under the health and Safety at Work Act 1974 the PCT has a duty to provide all
workers with a safe place and system of work. This includes a workplace free from
harassment and bullying which may, in certain circumstances, also amount to
3.2. The PCT is also responsible for ensuring that workers are protected from
unlawful harassment, bullying or discrimination in the course of their work on
grounds of sexual, sexual orientation, marital status, gender reassignment, race,
religion or belief, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, disability, HIV/AIDS
status, age, pregnancy or maternity
3.3. Individual workers may also in some cases be held legally liable for harassing
other workers or third parties (including patients), and may be ordered to pay
compensation by a Court of Employment Tribunal.
4.0 Responsibility for Implementation of the Policy
4.1. The Trust Board has overall responsibility for this policy but has delegated day-
to-day responsibility for overseeing its implementation to the Associate Chief
Operating Officer (HR &OD). Responsibility for monitoring and reviewing the
operation of the policy and any recommendations for change to the policy lies with
the HR department.
5.1. This policy and procedure applies to all employees and workers of NHS
Wandsworth, also known as Wandsworth teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT),
including those employees and workers hosted by the PCT and working for the
Support Services Partnership and Strengthening Commissioning. It therefore
includes managers, officers, directors, employees, consultants, contractors,
trainees, homeworkers, volunteers, part-time and fixed-term employees, casual and
5.2. In the case of categories such as volunteers and directors, where necessary,
the PCT will adapt the procedure as appropriate in the particular circumstances in
order to deal most effectively with the issue raised. As an alternative, The PCT may
also make use of any other internal procedure that it considers appropriate in the
5.3. Violent or abusive behaviour perpetrated by patients and clients does not fall
within the scope of this policy. Employees should refer to the Policy for dealing with
patients who refuse care from PCT staff on racial or discriminatory grounds and/or
the Procedure for Care of Individuals who Are Violent or Abusive. In such cases,
the manager concerned must ensure that the principles set out in this procedure are
5.4. It is unavoidable that, in some cases, a matter may fall within the scope of a
number of different policies and procedures. In such cases, employees are
encouraged to seek advice from a trade union representative, line manager or from
HR in order to determine the most appropriate procedure to use. Attention is
therefore drawn to the complementary policies and procedures referred to in
5.5. The Dignity at Work procedure can only be invoked by alleged victims of
inappropriate behaviour, including bullying, harassment and victimisation. Such
inappropriate behaviour identified by a manager which has not been the subject of
an allegation by the alleged victim are excluded from the scope of this procedure
and must be taken forward under the disciplinary procedure on either a formal or
informal basis, as appropriate. Managers have a special responsibility to operate
within the boundaries of this policy and to facilitate its operation by ensuring that
workers understand the standards of behavior expected of them and by identifying
and acting upon inappropriate behaviour.
5.6. Managers are required to review behaviours in line with the Knowledge and
Skills Framework during appraisal, supervision and performance management and
take appropriate action as necessary where standards fall short of those required.
5.7. Bullying, harassment and victimisation are specific kinds of inappropriate
behaviour, and are particularly emotive terms. Definitions are set out below.
Disagreements, differences of opinion, misunderstandings, poor communication
and emotional flare-ups can all lead to disputes and conflict between individuals and
groups but may not necessarily amount to bullying, harassment or victimisation.
Some are minor and soon forgotten, but where the individual feels that they have
been subject to inappropriate behaviour, they may raise a concern under this
procedure regardless of whether or not this falls within the definitions outlined in this
5.8. For the purposes of this procedure, the following definitions have been
Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or
misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate,
denigrate or injure the recipient.
(ACAS, Bullying and harassment at work – guide for managers and employers,
5.8.2 Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behavior which,
through the abuse or misuse of power, makes the recipient feel vulnerable,
upset, humiliated and threatened.
5.8.3 Legitimate and constructive criticism of a worker’s performance or
behavior, or reasonable requests made of workers in the course of their
employment will not constitute bullying.
5.8.4 Bullying can result from a misuse of management power, but also from the
misuse of any form of individual power, such as physical strength, personality or
age, or collective power through strength of numbers, for example belonging to a
particular gender or ethnic group.
5.8.5 Bullying can be a single act, or a series of more minor acts, although as
below, employees are encouraged to take appropriate action at an early stage in
order to avoid escalation and a deterioration in working relations.
5.8.6 Examples of bullying behaviour
Withholding essential information, resources, training
Setting impossible tasks
Changing priorities or objectives unreasonably
Unreasonable allocations of duties or work
Isolating, excluding behaviour
Deliberate wrongful attributions of blame
Using information in a threatening way
Nicknames, malicious gossip
Belittling, patronizing comments
Persistent reminders of past failures
Unnecessary phone call to someone’s home
Grabbing a person
Inappropriate practical jokes
Damaging/stealing/moving a person’s property
5.8.7 These examples are given as a guide to help employees consider both
their own behaviour and that of others that they experience or witness in order to
gain an understanding of bullying. They are not exhaustive.
There are two important definitions of harassment, as follows:
5.8.10 Harassment as unlawful discrimination
When harassment occurs on the on the grounds of sex, marital status, gender
reassignment, race, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, age,
religion/belief, pregnancy or maternity or for a reason relating to a person’s
disability it is a form of unlawful discrimination. It is also unlawful to subject an
individual to sexual harassment including unwanted verbal, non-verbal or
physical conduct of a sexual nature, for example unwelcome sexual attention, or
other conduct based on sex or gender, or to harassment on the grounds of an
individual’s membership or non-membership of a trade union.
5.8.11 Harassment may be a one off episode or repeated behaviour. It may be
intentional or unintentional. It is defined as:
Unwanted conduct which has the purpose (intentional) or effect
violating a person’s dignity, or
creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive
environment” (ACAS – Bullying and harassment at work – a guide for
managers and employers, 2008)
5.8.12 Where the conduct in question is found, from the perspective of the
alleged perpetrator, to have been unintentional, it will be viewed as harassment if
this could be regarded as a reasonable conclusion when taking into account all
the circumstances, including, but not limited to, the alleged victim’s perception.
5.8.13 An employee may be harassed even if the harassment was not directed at
them, for example where a female worker overhears a female colleague being
verbally harassed by a male colleague and it violates her dignity.
5.8.14 Individuals are also protected from harassment which does not
necessarily relate to any particular form of discrimination. In such cases,
harassment is defined as follows:
a course of unwanted, unreasonable conduct (including speech) which
causes alarm and distress and is intended to amount to harassment, or
occurs in circumstances where it would appear to a reasonable person that
it would amount to harassment. A course of conduct must involve conduct
on at last two occasions (adapted from the Protection from Harassment Act
5.8.15 Examples of harassment
Displays of sexually explicit material
Sexual innuendos or lewd comments or gestures
Circulation of lewd emails, even if this is not actually sent to the person
A person is victimised where they are:
Treated less favourably than another because they have brought
proceedings, given evidence or information, rejected advances or
complained about the behaviour of someone who has been harassing,
discriminating against, or in some other way intimidating them or another
5.9. Bullying, harassment and victimisation do not necessarily occur face to face;
they may also occur in written communications, visual images, for example pictures
of a sexual nature or embarrassing photographs of others, email and telephone.
5.10 This policy and procedure covers harassment or bullying which occurs both in
the workplace itself and in settings outside the workplace, such as business trips,
events or social functions organized for or on behalf of the PCT and on or off its
5.11 A matter which falls within the scope of the Dignity at Work Policy and
Procedure may also fall within the remit of the Accident and Incident Reporting
(AIR) or Serious Untoward Incident (SUI) reporting procedures. Regardless of
raising a concern under this procedure, the AIR or SUI reporting procedures should
still be followed by the individual making the disclosure where it is appropriate to do
5.12 It is unavoidable that, in some cases, a matter may fall within the scope of a
number of different policies and procedures. In such cases, employees are
encouraged to seek advice from a trade union representative, line manager or from
HR in order to determine the most appropriate procedure to use.
5.13 Anonymous allegations relating to bullying, harassment or victimisation will not
be considered under this procedure.
5.14 Where a policy/procedure is being used to raise a concern, problem or
complaint, employees may not then repeat the process using an alternative
policy/procedure unless, in the opinion of the PCT, the particular circumstances
determine that this is appropriate.
6.0 Complementary Policies and Procedures
6.1. Grievance Procedure
In situations where an employee wishes to raise a concern, problem or complaint
(other than bullying, harassment and victimisation) and has a personal interest in
the outcome of the investigation, the grievance procedure should normally be used.
6.2. Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure
The Whistleblowing Procedure should be used to report concerns about a possible
fraud, danger or other serious risk, including a cover up, that threatens the public or
others, but which does not personally affect the employee wishing to raise them.
The Whistleblowing Procedure is intended to be used where the individual raising
the issue is a witness, rather than a complainant. Whistleblowing presupposes
there is an outside agency (e.g. a regulator, the police or media) who would have a
legitimate interest to investigate the underlying public interest concern. In extreme
circumstances, it might be appropriate to use the Whistleblowing Policy and
Procedure to make a third party report of bullying, harassment or victimisation, but
in most cases the third party is expected to discuss their concerns with their line
manager, or more senior manager. Anonymous reporting is discouraged, but is
permissible, under the Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure.
6.3. Accident and Incident Reporting
The reporting of accidents, incidents and near misses is a legal requirement, and for
this purpose the Accident and Incident Reporting Procedure should be used.
6.4. Serious Untoward Incident Reporting
The Serious Untoward Incident Procedure should be used to report serious
incidents. In general terms, this is something out of the ordinary or unexpected,
with the potential to cause harm, and/or likely to attract public and media interest.
6.5. PCT Complaints Procedure
Concerns, problems or complaints an employee wishes to make as a service user
should be dealt with under the PCT Complaints Procedure – Voicing your
6.6 Policy for dealing with patients who refuse care from PCT staff on racial or
This policy offers guidance for dealing with patients, service users, their careers and
families who harass or refuse care from PCT staff because of their race or ethnicity,
including going to extreme lengths or making excuses not to be cared for by diverse
6.7 Disputes Procedure
This procedure forms an Agreement made between the PCT and those Staff
Organisations recognised by the Trust in the Trust Recognition Agreement. A
dispute is defined as a collective difference between a group of employees
represented by one or more of the recognised Staff Organisations and the PCT,
concerning conditions of service, working practice, or implementation of Trust
policies and procedure, likely to have organisation wide implications.
6.8 Procedure for Care of Individuals who are Violent or Abusive
In the event of inappropriate behaviour by a patient and following careful review by
the individual’s clinical team (or the on-call team out of hours), the Procedure for
Care of Individuals who are Violent or Abusive can by instigated.
6.9 Diversity Policy
The Diversity Policy sets out the PCT’s policy to recognise and value the diverse
backgrounds of its employees, patients, service users and local communities and its
commitment to harness the talents, experiences and diverse backgrounds to build
on a common and shared vision to deliver quality and equitable services for all.
6.10 Being Open Policy and Procedure
Appendix A of the Being Open Policy and Procedure states the PCT’s commitment
to a fair and open culture. This states that disciplinary action will not be taken
against a member of staff for reporting an incident, except in the rare circumstances
where there is evidence they are involved in:
gross professional or gross personal misconduct
repeated breaches of acceptable behaviour or protocol
7.0 Board and Chief Executive Policy Statement
7.1 The PCT believes that staff are its greatest asset and is committed to creating a
working environment in which every member of staff is valued and supported and
able to perform to the best of their ability. The Staff Charter sets out the rights and
responsibilities of all employees. These include recognising and valuing diversity,
equal treatment, honesty, mutual trust, dignity, respect, integrity, courtesy and
working in a healthy environment free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.
7.2 The PCT has a zero tolerance to acts of bullying, harassment and victimisation
and supports the reporting of all incidents. The PCT views proven bullying,
harassment and victimisation as a disciplinary offence that in serious cases may
lead to dismissal. Making false or malicious (as opposed to unproven) allegations
will be viewed in the same way.
7.3 The PCT is strongly committed to encouraging all staff to raise concerns and
issues at any time as only matters that have been raised can be addressed. A
central part of the commitment is the PCT’s statement on a fair and open culture.
Any employee who has concerns of bullying, harassment or victimisation taking
place against a third party should take appropriate action by discussing it with their
manager, or more senior manager. Under the Accident and Incident Reporting
Policy, it is the responsibility of employees to verbally report all violent incidents
involving physical or verbal abuse, or harassment, to their manager as soon as
possible, and to complete an AIR form within one day. Further details are provided
in the Accident and Incident Reporting policy.
7.4 Any employee raising a legitimate concern in good faith will be protected from
7.5 The PCT will take all reasonably practicable measures to prevent bullying,
harassment and victimisation by its workforce or third parties, such as patients and
visitors, in order that employees are able to work without fear of harassment,
bullying or victimisation. Harassment, bullying or victimisation will not be tolerated at
work or in the course of employment including at other people’s workplaces, work-
related functions, such as conferences, or at work-related social gatherings.
7.6 It is the responsibility of all employees to act in ways that support equality and
value diversity, treating everyone with whom they come into contact with dignity and
respect and recognising and reporting behaviour that undermines this. (Knowledge
and Skills Framework Core 6/ Level1). In this respect, diversity is viewed in broad
terms, encompassing gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion and
belief as well as professional background, directorate/team and grade.
7.7 All employees must make sure they do not discriminate against other
What they do or say
What they do not do or say
When interacting with colleagues
When interacting with users of services
When working with the public
When working with visitors to the organisation.
7.8 Managers have an additional responsibility to set the standards of acceptable
behaviour expected of staff, using their judgment to correct standards of conduct or
behaviour which could be seen as harassment, and to remind staff of these
standards. Where there is reasonable evidence of inappropriate behaviour,
managers should not wait until allegations are brought to their attention before
taking appropriate action. Where no complaint has been made by the alleged
victim, the manager should take action on either a formal or informal basis, as
7.9 It is rarely acceptable to do nothing either because the alleged victim has not
raised a concern, or states that they do not want any action taken. However, this
may impact on the PCT’s ability to investigate a matter. The PCT may be liable
where it knows or ought to know that harassment, bullying or victimisation is taking
place and fails to take reasonable steps to prevent it. It is therefore important to
differentiate between behaviour which the “victim” does not find offensive, and
behaviour which they do find offensive but are concerned about the repercussions
of action being taken. In the first case, the effect on 3rd parties should be
considered. For example, a witness of sexual harassment against a colleague may
also claim that they themselves are being sexually harassed.
7.10 Managers should also respond sensitively to any concerns expressed by their
staff, bearing in mind that the perception of the individual is a significant factor. If
someone believes that he or she has been harassed, then there must be an
opportunity for that anxiety to be expressed, without fear of victimisation.
7.11 Managers will exercise their management obligations in a fair, constructive,
consistent and reasonable manner that does not compromise the employee’s
dignity and will not use their position to bully, harass or victimise others, or assume
a threatening or intimidating management style.
7.12 The PCT distinguishes between harassment and bullying behaviour which is
undermining and destructive and effective supervision which is supportive and
developmental. The PCT is committed to effective performance management and
nothing in this policy shall detract from the obligation placed on managers to
exercise effective supervision including giving legitimate, constructive and fair
feedback regarding an employee’s performance or behaviour at work, and
undertaking investigations such as in response to an allegation of bullying,
harassment or victimisation.
7.13 Supportive and developmental feedback will focus upon:
Actions and behaviour, focusing on what the employee has done or not
Facts, with specific examples of behaviour that has been inappropriate and
an explanation of why it was inappropriate;
Future improvement, for example requiring the employee to do something
differently or make changes.
7.14 Criticism which could be regarded as bullying or harassment may include:
Aggressive behaviour, such as yelling;
Personal insults or put-downs;
Allocating blame rather than responsibility;
Focusing on how awful the situation is, rather than on future improvement or
rectification of the problem.
7.15 Fair and appropriate use of the PCT’s policies and procedures for the
management of staff is legitimate action and as such does not constitute
harassment, bullying or victimisation. Examples include:
Capability policy and procedure;
Disciplinary policy and procedure;
Sickness absence policy and procedure;
Inadequate attendance procedure;
Dignity at Work policy and procedure.
7.16 Similarly, reasonable (but perhaps unpopular) requests by a manager of
his/her employees in the normal course of their duties will not be viewed as acts of
harassment, bullying or victimisation.
7.17 As outlined in the Staff Charter, all employees have a responsibility to actively
participate in supervision, appraisal and training opportunities, acknowledge and
learn from their mistakes, respond appropriately to constructive feedback and be
open to change and improvements that will benefit our services.
7.18 A manager who is concerned about the repercussions of taking legitimate
management action should seek advice from their senior manager or from HR.
7.19 In cases of alleged assault or behaviour that is considered to be a criminal
offence, the PCT may (where appropriate) contact the police or support the alleged
victim in contacting the police if they wish to do so. An employee may be personally
liable for bullying, harassment and victimisation that constitutes as a civil or criminal
7.20 The PCT recognises that where it does occur, bullying, harassment and
victimisation may be instigated by managers against sub-ordinates, peers against
peers, or sub-ordinates against managers. Acts of bullying, harassment and
victimisation may be carried out by anyone regardless of background, for example
sexual harassment may be instigated by anyone of any gender against anyone or
any other gender, including their own and racial harassment may be instigated by
anyone of any racial origin against anyone of any racial origin, including their own.
7.21 In accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice, there are no time limits on
raising a grievance concerning bullying, harassment or victimisation, but the Code
states that where it is not possible to resolve such a grievance informally,
employees should raise the matter without unreasonable delay. The PCT
therefore expects that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, a concern will
be raised within three months of the date when the matter being complained
about happened. Where the complaint concerns a course of action, then this
should be raised within three months of the last incidence being complained about,
but employees are always encouraged to raise matters at an early stage to prevent
an unacceptable course of action from developing. Early intervention furthers the
principle of accountability and also aids the investigator to establish the facts whilst
memories are fresh and information is more readily available.
8.0 Employee Support
8.1 Bullying, harassment and victimisation may sometimes be hard to recognize,
and may not be obvious to others. The victim may think “perhaps this is normal
behaviour in this organisation”, or that others may find them weak or incompetent if
they find the actions of others intimidating. They may also worry that they may be
accused of over-reacting, or will not be believed. They may even appear to overact
to something that seems relatively trivial but which to them is the last straw.
8.2 An employee who believes they have been subjected to bullying, harassment or
victimisation, the subject of an allegation or a witness to such behaviour may wish
to seek support.
8.3 In addition to seeking the support of a trade union representative or other
workplace representative/colleague, employees may seek counselling support
through Occupational Health Services (0208 725 2633) via either a management or
self-referral. Further details are available in the Stress Management Policy.
8.4 It may also be appropriate to seek the support of the Staff Advisory Service. The
Staff Advisory Service is made up of staff from all levels and directorates of the PCT
who have been trained. (020 8687 4744/020 8812 7661)Their role is to provide
assistance to employees with allegations of harassment and bullying, explain how
the procedures for raising an allegation operate both informally and formally and
help and support both alleged perpetrators and complainants. They may also refer
an individual to external support groups or other professional bodies if appropriate.
8.5 Equally, any employee who has concerns about their own conduct, regardless
of whether or not any allegations have been made against them, perhaps because
they feel a particular episode was out of character, may seek guidance from the
Stress Management Policy and may seek counselling support through Occupational
Health Services via either a management or self-referral.
9.1 All parties involved in any issue being dealt with under this policy and procedure
are required to keep any information concerning the allegation in strict confidence.
If personal, sensitive information is not being kept in strict confidence by any party,
this may result in disciplinary action. It may also be a breach of the Data Protection
9.2 Normally, confidentiality will be maintained, where possible. The wishes of the
people involved (the complainant and the alleged perpetrator) will be respected and
their views will normally be taken into account in deciding whether or not to disclose
information to another person. There will need to be disclosure to those involved in
the procedures outlined in this policy and procedure (and in any appeals) to the
extent that is needed for them to be used effectively.
9.3 In some circumstances it may be necessary to take action of some kind to
protect the complainant, although every effort will be made to maintain
9.4 There may be circumstances, e.g. involving potential criminal acts where
individuals have suffered serious harm, in which the PCT is under an obligation to
make specific disclosures to appropriate persons or authorities. In such
circumstances, the adviser will use all reasonable efforts to persuade the alleged
victim to agree to the release of the information.
9.5 If a complainant tells another person something in confidence that constitutes
an unacceptable risk to the complainant, another person or the PCT itself, it might
be necessary to breach that confidence in order to protect the safety of those
concerned. Exceptional circumstances may arise which give good grounds for
believing that the complainant will cause serious physical harm to others or
themselves, or have harm caused to him/her.
9.6 In any of the above circumstances, advice should be sought from the Associate
Chief Operating Officer (HR &OD), prior to making disclosures to appropriate
agencies or people.
9.7 A line manager, member of HR etc. may inform their line manager, or relevant
Head of Service of any harassment or bullying complaint that has been settled by
personal action where they think it is appropriate to do so (preferably with the
consent of the parties concerned).
9.8 If the complainant wishes to remain anonymous this may make it impossible to
take further action. The alleged harasser will be entitled to see any written
complaint about them.
9.9 Where the complainant states that they do not want any further action to be
taken, they must confirm this in writing. In such circumstances, the PCT will take
account of the wishes of the individual, but will also take account of its duty of care
and other statutory duties in determining if any further action is required.
9.10 A copy of the allegation and response, together with any statements, records
or notes taken at meetings should be retained on the employee’s personal file. This
includes allegations that were dealt with informally. The records should include:
The nature of the allegation raised, along with the original written allegation;
The employer’s response, which will include any notes taken at the meeting
and details of any follow up action;
The reason for any delays in hearing the allegation or appeal;
Whether there was an appeal, and if so, the outcome;
Any subsequent developments;
Copies of all correspondence.
9.11 All records must be retained in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Further advice on this is available from HR.
9.12 In the event that a counter-concern is raised, the concerns will be dealt with in
strictly chronological order, unless, in the opinion of the PCT, it is appropriate in the
particular circumstances to take a different course of action. This may include
conjoining the concerns for investigation and meeting purposes where the issues
concerned make it appropriate to do so.
9.13 The PCT cannot guarantee that an employee raising an allegation of
harassment, bullying or victimisation will be satisfied with the response, but every
effort will be made to handle it fairly and properly.
10.0 Workplace Representation
10.1 The PCT fully supports the right of an employee to be accompanied by a single
trade union or other workplace representative/colleague to any formal investigatory
meeting or formal hearing held under this procedure. In order to ensure the
protection of personal data, employees raising, or the subject of, a grievance must
provide their written consent for any personal data relating to them to be provided
to, or discussed with, their chosen workplace representative/colleague, or any other
third party, at their request. Form A, at appendix A, should be used for this purpose.
10.2 No external representative is permitted unless the PCT deems that this is a
reasonable adjustment in order to meet the particular needs of a disabled
employee, such as a Support Worker, or where the employee would be
unreasonably disadvantaged without such a representative, for example where the
employee requires the use of a translator. (a translator can be arranged by PCT if
required). In such circumstances, the employee should write to the Associate Chief
Operating Officer (HR &OD) requesting such representation and the reasons for
this. The Associate Chief Operating Officer (HR & OD) will determine if the request
should be granted, and whether this should be in addition to, or in place of, a single
trade union or other workplace colleague, within a reasonable period of receiving
such a request.
10.3 No legally qualified representative, or legal representation, is permitted under
10.4 In line with the Trust’s Facilities and Time Off for Staff Organisation
Representatives policy, permission for trade union representative to leave work in
order to participate in interviews with and on behalf of staff on grievance and
disciplinary matters will not be unreasonably withheld, but can only be granted with
full regard to the needs of the service in question. The same permission extends to
a colleague employed by the PCT who is not a trade union representative for
matters that fall within the scope of this policy.
10.5 If it is not reasonably practicable for the workplace representative/colleague to
attend a meeting organised under the formal procedure, then the manager should
re-schedule it. The employee must propose an alternative date within five days and,
if acceptable, the manager must then invite all parties to attend at this new time. It is
therefore expedient to liaise with the workplace representative/colleague’s line
manager when making arrangements for any meeting in order to secure their
availability. In situation where a witness (s) is required to attend the grievance
hearing, it would also be expedient to liaise with their line manager for the same
purpose. When doing so, no personal details relating to the aggrieved employee
should be disclosed.
10.6 When considering any further adjustments to the arrangements to
accommodate the availability of the employee’s chosen workplace
representative/colleague, the PCT will pay due regard to the reasonableness of the
request to be accompanied by the chosen workplace representative/colleague, for
example the length of delay caused by their non-availability and the availability of a
suitable alternative workplace representative/colleague.
11.0 Reasonable Adjustments
11.1 The PCT will make any reasonable adjustments necessary in order to ensure
that any employee, particularly a disabled employee, participating in the dignity at
work procedure, or the workplace representative/colleague or any such employee,
is treated fairly. Reasonable adjustments may be requested by relevant workers.
12.0 Raising a Concern regarding bullying, harassment or victimisation
12.1 An allegation of bullying, harassment or victimisation is a grievance - a
concern, problem or complaint that an employee raises with the PCT, and where
the employee concerned normally has a personal interest in the outcome of any
investigation into their grievance. (ACAS Code of Practice, 2009).
12.2 Due to the very personal nature of concerns regarding bullying, harassment or
victimisation, the following procedure replaces the grievance procedure in order to
deal more appropriately with such concerns. This procedure meets all relevant
statutory requirements and therefore a concern raised under this procedure may not
also be raised under the grievance procedure.
12.3 All formal allegations will be appropriately investigated, and following this, a
decision will be made as to whether or not there is case to answer. Where there is
a case to answer and formal disciplinary action is the appropriate response, a
hearing will then take place in accordance with the disciplinary procedure. In such
cases, the victim of bullying, harassment or victimisation will be required to attend
the Hearing as a witness.
12.4 Raising any grievance may be a stressful experience, but particularly so where
the allegation is one of bullying, harassment or victimisation due to the very
personal nature of the concern. Support is available from a variety of sources as
outlined above and attention is particularly drawn to the Staff Advisory Service (see
paragraph 6.4 above).
12.5 Where appropriate, the following procedures may be used:
Accident and Incident Reporting;
Serious Untoward Incident Reporting;
Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure. (The Whistleblowing Procedure is
intended to be used where the individual raising the issue is a witness, rather
than a complainant).
13. Informal Action
13.1 Informal action is most appropriate when the working relationship is still
reasonably positive and when the unwanted behaviour is recent. For this reason,
employees are not encouraged to make notes of times, dates and details of
perceived bullying, harassment or victimisation over a long period of time because
this can allow the situation to escalate. It is in the best interests of all parties for
matters to be addressed at the earliest possible stage and it is hoped that the
majority of grievances will be satisfactorily resolved at this stage.
13.2 Where the employee feels able to do so, they are encouraged to try to resolve
the matter by making it clear to the person concerned that their behaviour is
unwanted and unacceptable and to ask them to stop any harassment. The
behaviour may be unintentional and the alleged perpetrator may genuinely not
realise that they are causing offence. An informal discussion can lead to greater
understanding and an agreement that the behaviour will cease.
13.3 Before speaking to the alleged perpetrator, it is important for the individual
raising the concern to think about what they want to say, and how they plan to say
it. The following aspects should be identified and discussed:
A clear description of the behaviour that is causing the problems focusing on
actions/inactions and not on perceptions of the individual’s attitude lying
behind their behaviour;
The feelings that this behaviour evokes, for example, “I feel upset” or “I feel
The needs of the individual raising the concern: “I want to feel part of the
team”, “I want to be respected”;
A request for specific action that is reasonable and practical, for example,
“When we are in meetings, I would like you to include me”, “When you talk to
me, I would like you to use my name.”
13.4 Employees should stick to the facts and avoid language which may be
considered insulting or abusive. It may be helpful to ask someone else, who is not
emotionally involved with the situation, to help prepare for the conversation, and
perhaps rehearse it with them.
13.5 Whilst the intention at this stage is to keep matters as informal as possible, the
alleged victim may ask a workplace representative/colleague (see paragraph 8) to
accompany them during such a conversation with the alleged perpetrator.
13.6 Where the employee does not feel able to approach the alleged perpetrator
themselves, they may approach their manager (unless the allegation is against their
manager), a Human Resources Advisor, their manager’s manager or trade union
representative requesting that they raise the concern with the alleged perpetrator on
their behalf. At this stage, no investigation would be carried out as the intervention
is informal. The role of the individual who has been approached for assistance is to
raise the concern on behalf of the alleged victim, and not to make judgments as to
who is right or wrong.
13.7 If neither of these options is suitable, then it might be appropriate to write to the
alleged perpetrator. Care should be taken to ensure that this does not enflame the
situation, so, for example, blaming statements and emotive language should be
avoided. As with a discussion, the letter should clearly describe the negative
behaviours and explain why they are unwanted. The desired alternative behaviours
should be described and a suggestion made as to how the situation could be
resolved. When writing to the alleged perpetrator, it is particularly advisable to seek
assistance from a neutral third party, and to resist acting impulsively or in anger. It
is recommended that following preparing a draft letter, the aggrieved employee
leaves this for 24 hours before re-visiting it and confirming that the concern and
action required has been appropriately expressed.
13.8 Individuals should keep a record of any informal action taken, along with a note
of the date and what those involved said. This is necessary should evidence be
required at a later date should the behaviour continue or subsequently recur.
14.1 Once the alleged perpetrator has been approached, where differences remain,
both parties may agree to participate in mediation.
14.2 Mediation involves an impartial third party (the mediator) helping the
individuals in dispute to attempt to reach an agreement. The mediator does not
judge who is right or wrong, or tell the individuals concerned what to do, but
provides a safe and confidential opportunity for participants to find their own answer
through joint problem-solving.
14.3 Mediation is particularly effective when used at the initial phase of any
disagreement, before conflict escalates. Early intervention can prevent both sides
from becoming entrenched and the difference turning into a full blown dispute.
14.4 Further details are available in the Mediation Policy and Procedure.
15.0 Formal Stage
15.1 Where the circumstances make the informal route/mediation inappropriate, or
the employee has attempted this without success, the employee may raise their
concern formally. At any time, with the agreement of both the alleged victim and
alleged perpetrator, the formal procedure may be suspended in order for mediation
to take place.
15.2 Whilst employees are always encouraged to go through the informal stage, it is
for the employee to decide whether or not they wish to do so. Any allegation
presented in writing will be treated as a formal allegation, unless the employee
states in writing (perhaps following an initial discussion) that they wish it to be
15.3 Where the informal route/mediation has not been successful, and the alleged
victim chooses not to raise their concern formally, the manager should assess
whether or not it is appropriate to refer the matter for disciplinary action.
16.0 Formal Stage One
16.1 Stating the allegation
16.1.1 The employee must state, in writing, the nature of the allegation.
Employees are requested to use Form B, at appendix B, for this purpose but
any employee concern, problem or complaint put in writing (including email),
within the scope of the dignity at work policy should be treated as a formal
concern under this procedure.
16.1.2 Providing as much detail and evidence as possible will assist in
resolving the concern as quickly as possible, but employees should not delay
raising a concern, or allow the situation to deteriorate further, in order to gather
evidence and information that is not readily available to them.
16.1.3 When stating their concern employees should stick to the facts and
avoid language which may be considered insulting or abusive. It may be
helpful to ask someone else, who is not emotionally involved with the situation,
to either help prepare the statement, or proof read a draft before it is
16.1.4 The complainant should state the identity and contact details of any
potential witnesses. The complainant is not required to seek agreement from
such witnesses to their participation, but may do so if they wish.
16.1.5 The written concern should be sent to the immediate line manager. In
cases where this person is the subject of the concern, the concern should be
sent to the manager’s manager. If this is not possible, due to the seniority of
the employee (s) concerned, or because they too are the subject of the
concern, the employee should seek advice from HR, who will elect a suitable
representative to whom the concern should be addressed.
16.2 The Investigation
16.2.1 Following receipt of a written concern, an investigation should be
carried out by an investigator operating outside their normal area of
16.2.2 The manager must write to the employee within five working days of
receiving the concern , or where this is not possible as soon as practicable, to
inform them that it is being investigated and advise them of what form this will
take. Arrangements should be made for a formal meeting with 15 working
days following the completion of the investigation, or where this is not possible
as soon as is reasonably practicable. Separate guidance on carrying out
investigations is available.
16.2.3 An alleged harasser will have the right to be informed in writing of the
complaint made against them.
16.2.4 In order to ensure consistency of treatment, advice should be sought
from HR regarding whether similar concerns have been raised before, how
they have been resolved, and any follow-up action that has been necessary.
16.3.1 It may be appropriate to suspend an employee from work where a
serious allegation has been made, or if, during the course of the investigation,
there is a view that a serious breach of discipline may have occurred.
Circumstances where suspension is appropriate include:
Where relationships have broken down – particularly where there is a
potential risk that the employee could interfere with the PCT’s
On the evidence available, in the opinion of the investigating manager, the
allegations are serious enough that if proven destroy the bond of trust and
confidence between the PCT and the employee;
Where criminal charges have been brought against the employee in
connection with the allegation;
Where there are risks to employees or patients safety or property, or to the
PCT’s property or responsibilities to third parties.
16.3.2 Alternatives to suspension, for example a temporary transfer to another
department and/or post should be considered. Advice should always be taken
from HR before taking this course of action. In normal circumstances it is
appropriate that the alleged perpetrator should be redeployed rather than the
complainant but the needs of the service may mean that this is not possible
and therefore the PCT reserves the right to redeploy either party where it
considers this to be appropriate.
16.3.3 A decision to suspend an employee from work may be taken by either
the manager who received the complaint, or the Investigating manager. The
suspension itself must be carried out by xx and should be done at a meeting
with the employee unless exceptional circumstances do not permit this. In
such cases, a letter should be sent to the employee informing them that they
are suspended with immediate effect, and providing details of the suspension.
16.3.4 An employee may be suspended at any point during the procedure in
accordance with the grounds stated in paragraph xx above.
16.3.5 Periods of suspension should not normally exceed twenty working
days. Where it becomes apparent that the period of suspension needs to be
extended beyond twenty working days, to allow for a fuller investigation to be
undertaken, the employee should be written to, to confirm that the suspension
period has been extended. Following this initial extension the manager, where
it is necessary to do so, will write to the employee on a monthly basis for the
duration of the suspension, confirming the reason for the continued
16.3.6 During the period of suspension the employee will continue to be paid
their average earnings in line with their terms and conditions of employment.
This will include any enhancement allowances the employee is entitled to, but
not work which cannot be guaranteed, i.e. overtime, bank work, unless prior
arrangements have been made to undertake bank work or overtime before the
16.3.7 The manager who carried out the suspension must confirm the details
of the suspension in writing to the employee, as soon as reasonably
practicable following the suspension meeting. The letter will state the reason
for the suspension, the terms of the suspension, the requirements on the
employee and will also confirm that an investigation will follow/continue.
16.3.8 The manager who carries out the suspension, in conjunction with
professional leads where appropriate must consider whether a referral to the
relevant professional, regulatory or supervisory body, for example the NMC or
Independent Safeguarding Authority, is appropriate. Where it is decided this is
appropriate, the Manager must ensure this is done, seeking advice from HR as
16.3.9 Suspension is not an assumption of guilt, or a disciplinary sanction.
There is therefore no right of appeal against a suspension.
16.4 The Formal Meeting
16.4.1 Within 15 working days of the completion of the investigation, or where
this is not possible as soon as is reasonably practicable, a formal meeting
should be held with the alleged victim, who has the right to be accompanied at
this meeting by a workplace representative/colleague (see paragraph 8
16.4.2 All parties should make every effort to attend the meeting (see
paragraph 8 above).
16.4.3 Consideration should be given to adjourning the meeting for any further
investigation that may become necessary.
16.4.4 At the meeting, all parties should be introduced, as necessary.
16.4.5 The alleged victim should be invited to re-state their concern and how
they would like to see it resolved.
16.4.6 The manager should discuss the concern, and the evidence they have
obtained, with the alleged victim, and ask any further questions as required.
16.4.7 Following the meeting, the manager must decide on what action, if any,
to take. Where some form of formal action is needed, what action is
reasonable or justified will depend on all the circumstances of the particular
case. The decision must be communicated to the employee, in writing, as
soon as reasonably practicable after the meeting. Where it is appropriate to do
so, the manager must also set out what action the PCT intends to take to
resolve the concern.
The employee must be informed that they can appeal if they are not content
with the outcome.
17.0 The Appeal Stage
17.1 An employee who wishes to appeal against the outcome of a formal complaint
of bullying, harassment or victimisation must do so in writing, within 15 working days
of the date of the decision letter, setting out the grounds for their appeal. The
appeal should be, addressed to the Associate Chief Operating Officer – HR and
17.2 As soon as practicable following receipt of the written appeal, HR will arrange
for an appropriate manager to hear the appeal, which will normally be of a more
senior grade than the manager who considered the concern. A representative from
HR will be present, together with the manager whose decision is being appealed.
17.3 At the Appeal Meeting, following introductions, the employee should state the
grounds of appeal, expanding on their written appeal as appropriate.
17.4 Following this, the manager who heard the concern should state the reasons
for their decision.
17.5 Members of the Panel may question each party during their statements,
followed by each party to the other.
17.6 Within 5 working days of the appeal hearing, or where this is not possible, as
soon as practicable, the manager hearing the appeal should write to both the
employee and the manager who heard the concern, stating whether the appeal has
been rejected or upheld, and the reasons for this.
17.7 The decision of the appeals panel is the final stage of the internal procedure.
18.0 Monitoring of the Policy
Managers’ duties will be monitored at the PDR (Performance and Development Review)
sessions while the role of Occupational Health will be monitored as part of the review of
the service level agreement the PCT holds with them. The statement as to the
unacceptability of bullying and harassment will be reviewed and reconfirmed at each
policy update. The processes for raising concerns and the follow-up processes will be
reviewed as part of the annual staff survey by the Human Resources Governance
Committee. Occupational Health will provide information of the number of contacts per
quarter to the Safety Committee and a breakdown of counseling service contacts in
their annual report.
The regular provision of the reports detailed in this policy will be audited by the
Committee using the Bring Forward agenda. Where reports are expected but not
submitted, this will be logged as a matter of concern on the Bring Forward agenda until
it is resolved.
Where the monitoring has identified deficiencies not addressed in an existing action
plan (incident, risk, complaint, claim or team tool assisted) the committee will assign the
responsible manager the task of producing recommendations and action plans which
will be monitored and reviewed by the Committee using the Bring Forward agenda.
This policy will be reviewed by the Human Resources Governance Committee within the
timescales outlined on the cover sheet of the policy.
Sharing of information with Workplace Representative/Colleague
I consent to the PCT sharing relevant information regarding the Grievance/ Disciplinary/
Dignity at Work (delete, or amend as necessary) investigation/hearing in which I am
participating, with ……………………………… (Insert name) in their capacity as my
Formal Concern of Bullying/Harassment/Victimisation
Please insert details of your concern in the box below. If necessary, please continue on
a separate sheet and attach securely.
Please refer to the guidance notes on the reverse.
Date Concern Submitted ....................................................
Please provide as much details and evidence as possible, but do not delay raising a
concern, or allow the situation to deteriorate further, in order to gather evidence and
information that is not readily available to you.
You should stick to the facts and avoid language which may be considered insulting or
abusive. It may be helpful to ask someone else, who is not emotionally involved with
the situation, to either help you complete this form, or read a draft before it is submitted.
This form should be submitted to your immediate line manager. In cases where this
person is the subject of the concern, it should be sent to the manager’s manager. If this
is not possible, due to the seniority of the employee (s) concerned, or because they too
are the subject of the concern, you should seek advice from HR who will elect a suitable
representative to whom the concern should be addressed within five working days of
receiving such a request.
Please refer to the Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure for details regarding support
that is available to you.