DIGNITY AT WORK POLICY AND PROCEDURE
(Addressing bullying and/or harassment in the workplace)
1. STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT
King’s College London (the College) is committed to providing its staff, as its
most important asset, a working and learning environment that is free from all
forms of harassment and bullying. It fully supports the right of all people to be
treated with dignity and respect at work and will take appropriate steps to achieve
this. Harassment, discrimination, bullying and victimisation can lead to fear,
stress and anxiety and may be unlawful. The College finds any form of such
The College will make all employees, contractors, visiting appointees, students
etc. aware of the policy forbidding harassment and bullying and their
responsibility to comply with the policy. Appropriate disciplinary action, including
warnings, compulsory transfers (without protection of wages and salary) and
dismissal for serious or repeated offences, may be taken against any employee
who violates this policy. Definitions of harassment may be found in Appendix A.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 1
DIGNITY AT WORK POLICY AND PROCEDURE 1
1. Statement of Commitment 1
2. Definitions of Harassment and Bullying 3
3. Forms and Examples of Harassment and Bullying 3
4. The Effects of Harassment and Bullying 3
5. Employer’s Responsibilities 3
6. Line Manager’s Responsibility 4
7. Employee’s Responsibility 4
8. Complaints 4
9. How to Tackle Harassment 5
10. Informal Approach 6
11. Formal Procedure 6
12. The Investigation 6
13. Findings 7
14. Appeal 7
15. After the Informal/Formal Procedure 7
16. Harassment/Bullying of Staff by the Public 8
17. Role of Contact Officers 8
18. Role of Trade Union Representatives 9
19. Role of Equality and Diversity Department 9
20. Support for Staff who are Subject to Harassment 9
21. Support for Perpetrators of Harassment 9
22. Termination of Contract 10
23. Malicious Complaints 10
24. Monitoring 10
APPENDIX A 11
Definitions of Harassment, Bullying and Victimisation 11
1. Harassment 11
2. Bullying 12
3. Victimisation 12
APPENDIX B 13
Forms and Examples of Harassment 13
1. Race 13
2. Gender 13
3. Disability 13
4. Age 14
5. Sexual Orientation 14
6. HIV/AIDS 14
7. Religion 14
8. Bullying 14
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 2
2. DEFINITIONS OF HARASSMENT AND BULLYING
See Appendix A
3. FORMS AND EXAMPLES OF HARASSMENT AND BULLYING
See Appendix B
4. THE EFFECTS OF HARASSMENT AND BULLYING
Amongst the causes of stress at work, the Health & Safety Executive lists harassment
and bullying, inconsistent managerial style, autocratic management, failure to listen to
and take account of staff views. All these elements must be taken into account during
H&S risk assessments.
Harassment and bullying can affect a person’s health. Common physical symptoms
include severe headaches, disturbed sleep, sweating, shaking, palpitations, stomach
problems, minor aches and pains. The effect can also manifest itself in an apparent lack
of commitment, poor performance and even resignation. Behavioural patterns may
change with more expressions of anxiety, irritability, depression, anger, aggressive
feelings, lack of motivation, loss of confidence, feelings of isolation and reduced self-
It should be noted however, that not all staff will exhibit these signs as a result of
harassment, and effect of harassment should not be downplayed where there is a lack of
5. EMPLOYER’S RESPONSIBILITIES
The College has a corporate responsibility to take active steps to minimise the level of
harassment in the College and to promote the well being of its staff.
As part of its duty to ensure the physical and psychological health, safety and welfare of
employees at work, KCL is assessing the causes of stress at work (including possible
occurrences of harassment/bullying) and seeking to introduce measures to reduce or
The College will monitor and publish appropriate data on the concerns raised by
employees including the formal stages of this procedure via reports annually to the
Staffing Policy Committee and to trade unions through Joint Negotiating Committees.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 3
6. LINE MANAGER’S RESPONSIBILITY
It is the Line Manager’s responsibility to ensure appropriate performance management
(e.g. appraisal, induction, probation, workloads, capability etc.) and to foster a climate that
discourages the occurrence of harassment/bullying. Potential breaches of this policy and
unacceptable behaviour should be acted upon despite the absence of a formal complaint.
They are responsible for preventing harassment/bullying at work and for taking
appropriate action to eliminate it when it occurs.
They must ensure that all incidents are dealt with promptly and fairly, in strict confidence
and shared on a need to know basis only.
Harassment/bullying cases can be complex. Managers can seek support from their own
manager and/or the Personnel Department.
7. EMPLOYEE’S RESPONSIBILITY
Individual employees also have a role to play by:
Helping to create a climate of co-operation which discourages
Making it clear that they find such behaviour unacceptable
Supporting colleagues – this may include challenging the harasser/ bully at
the time of the incident, offering support in any other way and co-operating in
Ensuring no victimisation of complainants occurs.
Employees who believe they are being subjected to any form of harassment/bullying are
encouraged to report it.
Complaints should be dealt with quickly, sensitively and in confidence. The manager
should reassure the complainant that the matter will be taken seriously, also that s/he will
be informed of any progress and consulted on the proposed course of action. If the term
harassment/bullying is not used in the complaint, the manager should discuss the
allegation(s) with the complainant to determine if the incident(s) can be termed as
harassment or bullying.
The complainant may use either this procedure or the relevant grievance procedure but
may not use both in respect of the same issue.
If any employee makes a personal complaint but wishes to remain anonymous, other
methods of solving the problem should be sought, particularly action to prevent further
It is crucial that the complainant be protected against victimisation or retaliation for
bringing a complaint forward.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 4
The complaint can be verbal or in writing. If the formal procedure is to be followed (see
section 11 below) the complainant should be asked to agree a written record of their
complaint. Where the immediate line manager is the alleged perpetrator, the matter
should be raised with the line manager’s line manager. If the complaint involves the
unreasonable behaviour of a Head of Department, it may be made directly to the
appropriate Head of School/Function. If it involves the unreasonable behaviour of a Head
of School/Function, the matter should be raised with the appropriate Senior Officer (Vice
Principal, College Secretary, Head of Resources).
The complainant should be made aware of the procedure and be allowed to be
accompanied at all stages of the decision making process by a colleague or trade union
representative (see below).
The manager must inform an employee accused of harassment/ bullying at an early stage
about the complaint. The alleged perpetrator should be informed of their right to be
accompanied by a trade union representative or a colleague at all meetings.
9. HOW TO TACKLE HARASSMENT
Staff subjected to harassment are very vulnerable and may be reluctant or afraid to
complain. Generally they want the unacceptable behaviour to stop and may suffer in
silence rather than have attention focused on them or risk some form of reprisal. This
means that all staff must be alert to the impact of their behaviour on others and prepared
to listen and respond if someone asks them to alter their behaviour because it is
offensive in some way.
It is important that any allegations of harassing behaviour are carefully considered and
addressed when brought to the attention of anyone in a supervisory position.
The following steps are recommended for tackling harassment:
Keep a record of the incidents – write down what has happened, when and where
and who witnessed it.
Confront the harasser – clearly state that his/her behaviour is unacceptable and
offensive in some way. It is preferable that the harasser should be confronted
informally before the harassment procedure is invoked. This may be done either
by the person being harassed or by an independent third party such as the
Contact Officer mentioned below.
Talk to your manager if the harassment does not stop. If your manager is the
harasser, speak to their boss.
Talk to someone who may be able to help e.g. trade union representative,
Personnel Department or Contact Officer.
If informal methods do not resolve the problem, make a formal complaint.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 5
10. INFORMAL APPROACH
Some relatively minor and isolated problems may best be dealt with in an informal
manner providing the complainant is in agreement.
Where an investigation reveals that a problem exists, the steps to resolve the problem
and prevent the situation recurring must be discussed with the complainant.
The immediate line manager may advise the alleged perpetrator. A record should be kept
on a confidential Personnel file held in the local Personnel Office. This may form evidence
in any future investigation. The perpetrator should be counselled about his/her behaviour
and if necessary, additional supervision and/or training may be provided.
If a manager, on the balance of probability, cannot decide whether or not the incident
occurred, the appropriate standards of behaviour must be made clear to all parties and a
record of the decision kept on a confidential Personnel file held in the Personnel
If the alleged perpetrator does not acknowledge his/her action is unacceptable or is not
responsive to remedial action, formal proceedings should be initiated.
11. FORMAL PROCEDURE
Use of the formal element of this procedure (which may invoke the College’s Disciplinary
Procedure) will be necessary where the informal route proves ineffective, or for more
serious instances of harassment/bullying, or where the complainant prefers to use the
formal procedure. Incidents of harassment/ bullying may be regarded as gross
misconduct and less serious cases as misconduct.
Before coming to a decision regarding the seriousness of a case and whether to proceed
with formal disciplinary action, managers may find it useful to consult with their Manager
or the Personnel Department to ensure all avenues of investigation have been
Where possible the complaint and proposal to resolve it should be discussed with the
complainant. Every effort will be made to deal with the complaint as speedily as possible,
but it should be recognised that some cases may take time to investigate. Specified time
limits may be extended with the agreement of both parties.
12. THE INVESTIGATION
The investigation should be carried out in the context of the disciplinary procedure and
will be conducted with the assistance of a Personnel Manager/Officer.
An Investigating Officer acceptable to both parties will be appointed. If agreement cannot
be reached, the Director of Personnel will identify the Investigating Officer. The Director’s
decision will be final.
It is advisable that the Investigating Officer arranges times of interviews and other
meetings at the outset to avoid delays.
Each written statement must be agreed and signed by the interviewee.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 6
During the investigation the manager of the alleged perpetrator may consider suspension
or temporary transfer of the alleged perpetrator as set out in disciplinary rules and
procedures. In cases where an Investigating Officer other than a line manager is
appointed, they should report their findings to the Principal or his/her nominee. The
Principal or his/her nominee should then arrange for any necessary action to be carried
Where allegations of criminal acts such as indecent exposure, physical attack or sexual
assault have been made, the complainant should be encouraged to report the matter to
the police. The College may also opt to report the incident to the police.
A record of the complaint, investigation and conclusion should be retained by the
Personnel Department. It should include names of parties, dates, nature and frequency
of incidents, action taken, follow up and monitoring.
A written report must be produced at the conclusion of the investigation by the
Investigating Officer. In some cases there will be no witnesses. The Investigating Officer
should consider whether “on the balance of probabilities” the complaint is substantiated.
Further to the completion of the investigation the Investigating Officer should write to the
complainant and the alleged perpetrator. This should normally be within 10 working days
of submission of the letter of complaint. Details of the findings of the investigation and the
action to be taken should be stated. The letter should also include an undertaking from
the management that the complainant will not be victimised or suffer any detriment. If
there is not enough evidence to substantiate the allegation both parties should be
informed that the matter will not proceed. A note of the findings should be kept by the
Where the investigation does substantiate the allegation the manager of the alleged
perpetrator must then decide whether or not to initiate the disciplinary procedure.
Should the complainant not be satisfied with the Investigating Officer’s findings, an appeal
should be submitted within 5 working days of receipt of the findings. This appeal should
be in writing to the Principal or stated nominee giving the reason(s) for dissatisfaction.
A review of the evidence gathered during the investigation will be undertaken by the
Principal’s nominee, who will be a person not previously involved. Complainants may
make such an appeal against the findings of the investigation officer but not in respect of
proposed action arising.
15. AFTER THE INFORMAL/FORMAL PROCEDURE
The Investigating Officer will meet with the complainant to advise of the outcome of the
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 7
Unless dismissal has resulted from the formal procedure, it is the responsibility of the
manager to ensure that there is some reconciliation between the two parties, to enable
them to work effectively in future. If this fails, it may be necessary to redeploy one party.
The complainant must not be disadvantaged by any move.
Reviews should be arranged to monitor the situation after the procedure has been
completed to ensure that the harassment has stopped and that there is no victimisation.
16. HARASSMENT/BULLYING OF STAFF BY THE PUBLIC
Managers who receive complaints from members of their staff, must take appropriate
action to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring and provide support to the employee
17. ROLE OF CONTACT OFFICERS
In recognition of the difficulties that may be involved in raising issues of
harassment/bullying, specially trained Contact Officers have been designated to offer
advice to employees who believe that they or their colleagues have been subjected to
The role of the Contact Officer is to:
Provide sympathetic assistance to employees with complaints of
Explain to them how the procedures for making a complaint operate
Establish the main details of the complaint
Channel the complaint to the appropriate manager for action if the employee
decides to take the matter further
Contact Officers may approach the alleged perpetrator on an informal basis on behalf of
the complainant to point out to the person that his/her behaviour has been perceived as
offensive and unacceptable and ask the person to stop. This may be sufficient to resolve
the matter satisfactorily.
Contact Officers will discuss cases in complete confidence and will not divulge
information to any other person without the agreement of the employee.
An employee who goes to a Contact Officer to talk about harassment/ bullying is under no
obligation to take further action.
A list of Contact Officers can be found on the KCL Personnel web pages at
http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/pertra/dignity/co_details.doc or from the Personnel
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 8
18. ROLE OF TRADE UNION REPRESENTATIVES
Trade union representatives are able to assist their members who have been harassed,
including supporting them in taking their complaints forward.
Complainants and alleged perpetrators may be accompanied by a Trade Union
representative or a colleague to all meetings/investigations/ disciplinary hearings relating
to harassment matters.
KCL is committed to preventing any bullying, harassment or victimisation of trade union
activists and members because of their trade union activities.
19. ROLE OF EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY DEPARTMENT
All parties should be aware of the expertise available from the Equality and Diversity
Department. For further information about the Department, please see
20. SUPPORT FOR STAFF WHO ARE SUBJECT TO HARASSMENT
Where harassment/bullying causes a deterioration in job performance, this will be treated
as a health problem, and the person will be encouraged to seek help. There will be no
discrimination against individuals suffering from harassment and work related stress
Employees who have been the victims of harassment/bullying will be offered paid time off
to attend counselling sessions through the College’s Student Counselling and Welfare
Service or by independent and trained counsellors.
This service will be strictly confidential between the counsellor and the member of staff.
No details or records will be disclosed without the written permission of the member of
The names of counsellors and how to contact them will be posted on the KCL Personnel
web pages so that staff can make arrangements for counselling outside their working
hours if they wish. This is for staff who do not want to ask for time off which would draw
attention to their need for counselling. The Dean’s Office and Chaplaincy are also
available to provide support to staff.
21. SUPPORT FOR PERPETRATORS OF HARASSMENT
Employees who believe they may be or have been found to be guilty of such behaviour
will be supported in their efforts to change their approach to colleagues and their staff.
They will be offered time off to attend counselling sessions.
Details of the College Student Counselling and Welfare Service appear on the KCL web
pages. The Dean’s Office and Chaplaincy are also available to provide support to staff.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 9
Those found to be perpetrators of unacceptable harassment may be required to
undertake appropriate training.
22. TERMINATION OF CONTRACT
This procedure is intended to address concerns of staff in current employment. When an
employee resigns or their contract of employment is terminated the matter will lapse.
23. MALICIOUS COMPLAINTS
Should an investigation determine that a complaint has been submitted with malicious
intent the matter will be referred for consideration under the appropriate disciplinary
procedure. Such cases may be considered to be gross misconduct.
To ensure that the College’s equal opportunities policy is effective and in order to comply
with requirements of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, monitoring of informal
and formal incidents will be carried out. The information obtained by the Personnel
department on an informal/formal basis under the Dignity at Work Policy will form a
confidential record/database which will be used for analysis of the College’s Equal
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 10
DEFINITIONS OF HARASSMENT, BULLYING AND VICTIMISATION
Definition from ACAS
Harassment is unwanted conduct that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating,
hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them having regard to all the
circumstances including the perception of the victim.
Harassment includes behaviour that is offensive, frightening or in any way distressing. It may
be intentional bullying which is obvious or violent, but it can also be unintentional or subtle
and insidious. It may involve nicknames, teasing, name calling or other behaviour which may
not be intended to be malicious but nevertheless is upsetting.
Harassment on the grounds of race
The amendment regulations (2003) to the Race Relations Act 1976 introduce a definition of
harassment which has not previously been set out in statute, although case law has
developed over a number of years which does outlaw harassment.
The definition of racial harassment is as follows:
“a person subjects another to harassment where on the grounds of that other’s racial,
ethnic or national origins, he engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or
Violating that other’s dignity; or
Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive
environment for that other”.
Conduct will only be regarded as falling within these categories “if having regards to all the
circumstances, including, in particular, the perception of that other, it should reasonably be
considered as having this effect”.
Harassment on the grounds of sex
In relation to harassment on the grounds of sex, there must be:
The conduct must relate to the sex of the person;
It must have the purpose or effect of violating the person’s dignity; or
It must have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating or hostile
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 11
By 2005, changes will be made to the sex discrimination legislation to introduce a new
definition of sexual harassment which will be
“where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
nature occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person in
particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive
It may seem confusing to have two definitions, one relating to harassment and one relating to
sexual harassment. Sexual harassment means treatment which is actually of a sexual nature.
It will cover any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
that has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating
an intimidating or hostile environment.
Harassment on the grounds of religion or belief
It may be about the individual’s religion or belief of those with whom the individual associates.
It may not be targeted at an individual(s) but consist of a general culture which, for instance,
appears to tolerate the telling of religious jokes.
Harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation
It is unlawful to subject someone to harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. It is also
unlawful to victimise someone because they have made or intend to make a complaint or
allegation or have given or intend to give evidence in relation to a complaint of discrimination
on grounds of sexual orientation.
Bullying is a serious form of harassment and may involve actions, comments, physical contact
or behaviour that is found to be objectionable. Personal vindictiveness against an
individual/individuals is also a factor.
Bullying can be defined as persistent actions, criticisms or personal abuse either in public or
private, which humiliates, intimidates, undermines or demeans the individual involved.
Victimisation is defined as treating people less favourably because of action they have taken
under or in connection with legislation – for example, if someone made a formal complaint of
discrimination or given evidence in a tribunal case.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 12
FORMS AND EXAMPLES OF HARASSMENT
This is offensive or hostile treatment of an individual(s) on the basis of their race,
nationality, ethnic origin or skin colour.
Examples include racial abuse of a physical, verbal or prejudicial nature, racist jokes,
insults, ridicule or name calling of a racist nature, display of racially offensive written or
visual material including graffiti and open hostility to any racial group.
More subtle forms include unfair allocation of work, unequal treatment in the application
of conditions of employment, unreasonable pressure to complete tasks, exclusion from
conversations and normal workplace activities or social events, unreasonable withholding
of permission to attend training or similar events and disproportionate monitoring of
The EU code of practice defines this as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or other
conduct based on gender affecting the dignity of women and men at work”.
This includes unnecessary touching and invasion of another person’s body space,
unwelcome and unwanted advances, patronising comments, propositions, pressure for
sexual activity, suggestive remarks, innuendoes or lewd comments, jokes of a sexual or
prejudicial nature and unwanted comments on dress or appearance.
Examples of non-verbal conduct that falls into this category include the display of
pornographic or sexually suggestive pictures, objects or written material, leering or
sexually suggestive gestures.
This is unfair and unwelcome treatment based on the fact that a person has a physical or
sensory impairment, learning difficulties or is experiencing mental distress.
This incorporates offensive, threatening or patronising language, action or behaviour
including disability jokes, inappropriate comments and questioning regarding a person’s
impairment, the denial of an individual’s identity as a disabled person, the consistent or
repeated failure to provide clearly identified facilities or requirements in order for a person
to perform their duties or receive an adequate service, prevention of attendance at
training or similar events.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 13
Ridiculing or demeaning behaviour based on stereotypical perceptions and prejudices,
about a person(s) because of their mature age and experience (or lack of in the case of
This includes unnecessary stipulation of age as a criterion in job descriptions, not taking
people seriously because of their age, unfair exclusion of individuals from training or
5. Sexual Orientation
Behaviour which condemns, ridicules or excludes individuals on the basis of stereotypical
This consists of offensive jokes, ridicule or name calling, stereotyping, the display or
circulation of offensive written or visual material, use of verbal abuse, threats or
derogatory comments about a person’s sexuality, using intrusive questioning about a
person’s partnership or domestic circumstances, systematic exclusion of from workplace
activities, and unequal treatment in the application of conditions of employment.
Treating somebody adversely because they have or it is suspected/believed they have
HIV or AIDS.
Behaviour which fails to tolerate or acknowledge the rights or needs of individuals with
different and dedicated religious convictions, beliefs and practices.
Persistent actions which humiliate, intimidate, undermine or demean the person involved.
This includes, but is not limited to using abusive language, unreasonably removing areas
of responsibility, continually ignoring or excluding an individual, persistently setting
objectives with impossible deadlines, picking on one person when there is a common
problem, frightening someone with physical or other threats and continual shouting at or
humiliating an individual in front of colleagues or in private.
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 14
Examples of harassment include:
verbal or written comments of an offensive nature, use of bad language, jokes or
lewd, suggestive or over familiar behaviour
displaying or circulating offensive material
insulting or ridiculing a person because of their age, sexuality, race, religion, disability,
gender, HIV/AIDS status, union membership or class (see appendix A, page 10)
isolation or non-co-operation at work, exclusion from social activities or developmental
opportunities at work
criminal acts such as indecent exposure, physical attack or sexual assault and racism
This list is intended to act as a guide illustrating unacceptable behaviour and is not
Examples of bullying include:
shouting at an individual to get things done
humiliating an individual in front of their colleagues
picking on one person when there is a common problem
conduct which is intimidating, physically abusive or threatening
victimisation, where a person is repeatedly or consistently treated less favourably than
consistently undermining someone and their ability to do their job
professional isolation or alienation
Agreed by Staffing Policy Committee 15