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DIGNITY AT WORK

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DIGNITY AT WORK Powered By Docstoc
					                                                     31.05.07
                       Approved by Governing Body on 18.07.07




DIGNITY AT WORK
Dublin Institute of Technology
Anti Bullying & Harassment
Complaints and Investigation
Procedures
Dublin Institute of Technology

Dignity at Work
       - Anti Bullying & Harassment Complaints and
         Investigation Procedures


Contents

Introduction
Initiating a Formal Complaint
The Investigation Procedure
Appointment of Investigators
Investigation Preparations
Stage 1 Acknowledgement Letter to the Complainant
Stage 2 The Complainants Interview
Stage 3 Notification of Complaint to the Alleged Offender(s)
Stage 4 Interview of the Alleged Offender(s)
Stage 5 Other Interviews
Stage 6 Re-Interviews
The Investigators’ Findings and Action Arising
Records
Appeals Procedures
Disciplinary Action
General Provisions
Appendix A Draft Letter to the Complainant
Appendix B Draft Letter to the Alleged Offender(s)
Appendix C Draft Letter to the Potential Witness(es)
Appendix D Anti Bullying and Harassment Summary Complaint Report




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INTRODUCTION
There are three approaches in DIT for dealing with complaints of bullying or harassment against members of staff
in the workplace which would include work associated events such as meetings, conferences and work related
social events, whether on the premises or off site: one informal, one formal and a third option of Mediation is
available where appropriate. Specific information on these approaches is set out in the document ‘Dignity at Work:
Anti Bullying & Harassment Policy for the DIT’.


If a staff member decides to make a formal complaint of bullying or harassment, the Institute’s formal complaint
procedure must be followed. This document sets out this procedure and describes how it operates.


INITIATING A COMPLAINT
The formal procedure commences when a written and signed complaint is presented either by, or on behalf of a
complainant, to one of the following:


    •   Line Manager/Supervisor/Head of School of the person making the complaint
    •   a HR Manager.


Should a complainant find it difficult to formulate or present a complaint, it is open to him/her to seek assistance
from another person (e.g. contact person, nominated trade union representative, work colleague) in preparing and
presenting the complaint to a member of management. The following will apply:


    •   the complaint, regardless of how it is presented, must be in writing and be signed personally by the
        complainant.


    •   all complaints made through trade union channels must be presented by a nominated trade union
        representative acting on behalf and with the permission of the complainant.


    •   where the complaint is against the Head of School it should be presented by, or on behalf of a complainant
        to the Director to whom the Head of School reports.


    •   where the complaint is against a Director of the Institute it should be presented by or on behalf of a
        complainant to the President.


    •   where the complaint is against the President of the Institute it should be presented by or on behalf of the
        complainant to the Chairman of Governing Body.




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THE INVESTIGATION PROCEDURE
As soon as a complaint of bullying or harassment is made the Head of School/Line Manager should refer to or
consult with the Head of Human Resources with a view to determining an appropriate course of action. An
appropriate course of action at this stage, for example, could be exploring a mediated solution or an informal
resolution. Should either of these approaches be deemed inappropriate or inconclusive, the complaint will be
immediately forwarded to the Head of Human Resources, who will initiate a formal investigation.


Appointment of Investigators
An investigation team of two people, selected from a panel of suitably trained individuals, will be appointed by the
Head of Human Resources. Every effort will be made to ensure a gender mixed team from at least one grade
above the complainant and alleged offender(s). One of the two people will act as Chairperson. Where the
complaint is against a Director or the President of the Institute, agreed external investigators will be appointed by
the President or the Chairman of Governing Body as appropriate.


Prompt action must be taken to ensure that investigations are initiated within two weeks of receiving a formal
complaint; that every effort is made to secure sign-off on interview records within the stipulated time frames; that
witness reports are signed off on the same day wherever practicable. Lack of co-operation with/or obstruction of an
enquiry is treated as a disciplinary matter


Investigation Preparations
It is the responsibility of the Human Resources Department to ensure that, prior to the investigation, the
investigators have received:


    •   a letter, signed and dated, from the Head of HR, instructing that the complaint be investigated;


    •   a copy of the complainant's written and signed complaint;


    •   a copy of ‘Dignity at Work: Anti Bullying & Harassment Policy for DIT’;


    •   a copy of the ‘DIT Anti Bullying & Harassment Investigation Procedure’ policy.


Stage 1 - Acknowledgement Letter to the Complainant
Prior to conducting the interview with the complainant, the investigators must ensure the complainant receives a
letter acknowledging receipt of the complaint and setting out the arrangements for its investigation. A copy of the
‘Dignity at Work: Anti Bullying & Harassment for DIT’ and the ‘DIT Anti Bullying and Harassment Investigation
Procedure’ policy should also be enclosed. The form of letter which will be used is associated as Appendix A.


Before confirming the arrangements for the interview, the investigators will satisfy themselves that the complainant
understands (or knows where he/she may obtain the necessary information regarding) the following aspects of the
investigation procedure:


    •   that investigation of the complaint may require that the specific allegation(s) contained therein be passed to
        the alleged offender(s)

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    •   the requirement to conduct an interview to discuss his/her complaint


    •   the right to be accompanied at interview by a trade union representative or colleague, provided this person
        is not directly involved in the case


    •   the right to avail of the Employee Assistance Officer at any point during the investigation


    •   that confidentiality and discretion will be observed in all matters connected with the investigation of the
        complaint raised, insofar as is practicable


    •   that any persons (i.e. complainant, alleged offender, witness(s) etc.) found to be in breach of confidentiality
        related to an investigation will render themselves liable to disciplinary proceedings, which may result in
        disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. This applies to any improper discussions of the
        substantive proceedings outside the formal meetings.


Stage 2 - The Complainant's Interview
The investigation shall begin with a thorough interview of the complainant in order to elicit and fully clarify the facts
behind the complaint. The allegation, the behaviour complained of, should be described clearly. The investigators
shall try to confirm:


    •   what occurred
    •   who was involved
    •   when the incident(s) occurred
    •   where the incident(s) occurred
    •   who, if anyone, witnessed the incident(s).


In addition to interviewing the complainant, the investigators shall:


    •   allow the complainant and/or his/her representative an opportunity to raise all matters which they deem
        relevant to the case at hand and which they wish to have considered in relation to the complaint


    •   keep comprehensive and legible notes of questions put to the complainant, of answers given and of
        submissions and representations made by the complainant and/or his/her representative in the course of
        the interview


    •   after the conclusion of the interview, compile a record of the interview


    •   advise the complainant that a copy of relevant parts of the interview record (when finalised) may be
        forwarded to the alleged offender(s)


    •   advise the complainant that a record of witness statements (if any) may be passed to both the complainant
        and the alleged offender
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       •   explain fully to the complainant and his/her representative the next stage(s) in the investigation (i.e.
           compilation of a report of the interview, interviewing the alleged offender(s) and relevant witness(s) etc.)


       •   explain how a decision on the outcome of the investigation will be notified, i.e. by letter to the complainant,
           alleged offender(s) and, if applicable, their nominated trade union representative.


Following the interview, the Chairperson of the investigation team will forward their notes to the interviewee within
seven days. The interviewee will be requested to review it and, if it is acceptable, sign and return one copy within
                1
seven days. If the interviewee considers the report to be inaccurate or incomplete, he/she should notify any
amendments, additions or points of clarification within seven days. If all is in order, the Chairperson will send two
copies of the amended record to the interviewee, who will return a signed copy within three days.


Stage 3 - Notification of Complaint To the Alleged Offender(s)
In the interests of natural justice the alleged bully or harasser will be notified in writing of the nature of the
complaint, given a copy of the allegation, informed of his or her right to representation and will be given every
opportunity to rebut the detailed allegations made.


At least one week prior to conducting the interview with the/each alleged offender, the investigators must ensure
that the alleged offender receives a letter of notification that a complaint of bullying or harassment has been made
                                                                             2
against him/her, which will include specific details of the complaint, and advising that the complaint will be the
subject of a thorough investigation by the Institute. Copies of ‘Dignity at Work: Anti Bullying and Harassment Policy
for DIT’ and ‘DIT Anti Bullying & Harassment Investigation Procedure’ should also be enclosed. The form of letter
which will be used is associated as Appendix B.


In the course of making arrangements for each interview, the investigators will satisfy themselves that the alleged
offender understands (or knows where he/she may obtain the necessary information regarding) the following
aspects of the investigation procedure:


       •   the requirement to conduct an interview to discuss the complaint


       •   the right to be accompanied at interview by a trade union representative or colleague, provided this person
           is not directly involved in the case


       •   the right to avail of the Employee Assistance Service at any point during the investigation


       •   that confidentiality and discretion will be observed in all matters connected with the investigation of the
           complaint, insofar as is practicable


       •   that any persons (i.e. complainant, alleged offender, witness(s) etc.) found to be in breach of confidentiality
           related to an investigation will render themselves liable to disciplinary proceedings, which may result in

1
    All references in this procedure to “days” are to calendar days.
2
    In normal course, a copy of pertinent sections of the written complaint will be included.
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        disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. This applies to any improper discussions of the
        substantive proceedings outside the formal meetings


    •   the prohibition on making any contact with the complainant or any potential witness(es) on any matter
        related to the complaint, and that any breach may result in disciplinary action


    •   where an alleged offender refuses to contribute to or participate in the process, the investigation team will
        note the non-cooperation and non-participation. The investigation will be continued and a recommendation
        will be made on the basis of the information available.


The outcome of the investigation will be to establish whether a case is substantiated or not and it is only then that
the matter enters into the Institute’s disciplinary procedure, if appropriate.


Stage 4 - Interview of the Alleged Offender(s)
The investigators shall conduct a thorough interview with the/each alleged offender in order to elicit and fully clarify
the facts behind the complaint. Where there is more than one alleged offender, each shall be interviewed
separately by the investigators.


In interviewing an alleged offender, the investigators shall adhere to the following steps:


    •   put to the alleged offender all of the allegations that the complainant has made about his/her behaviour


    •   allow the alleged offender an opportunity to respond in full, either verbally or in writing, within 7 days, to
        each of the allegations made


    In addition to the above steps, the investigators shall:


    •   allow the alleged offender and/or his/her representative an opportunity to raise all matters that they deem
        relevant to the case at hand and which they wish to have considered in relation to the complaint


    •   keep comprehensive and legible notes of matters raised, of responses given and of representations made
        by the alleged offender and/or his/her representative in the course of the interview


    •   after the conclusion of the interview, compile a record of the interview


    •   advise the alleged offender that a copy of relevant parts of the interview record (when finalised) may be
        forwarded to the complainant


    •   explain fully to the alleged offender and/or his/her representatives the next stage in the investigation (i.e.
        the compilation of a report of the interview, a further interview with the complainant to discuss the response
        of the alleged offender, interview with relevant witness(s) etc.)




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    •    explain how a decision on the outcome of the investigation will be notified, i.e. by letter to the complainant,
         alleged offender and, if applicable, their nominated trade union representative


Following the interview the Chairperson of the investigation team will forward their notes to the interviewee within
seven days. The interviewee will be requested to review it and, if it is acceptable, sign and return one copy within
seven days. If the interviewee considers the report to be inaccurate or incomplete, he/she should notify any
amendments, additions or points of clarification within seven days. If in order the Chairperson will send two copies
of the amended record to the interviewee who will return a signed copy within three days.


Stage 5 - Other Interviews
Interviews with witnesses shall be used to establish whether corroborative evidence of any nature is available. The
investigators shall conduct interviews with any person who may have any information which could assist in the
investigation of the complaint.


Prior to conducting interviews with witnesses, the investigators will ensure that each receives a letter informing
him/her of the investigation and inviting him/her to assist the enquiry. The form of letter which will be used is
associated as Appendix C.


In the course of confirming arrangements for the/each interview, the investigators will satisfy themselves that the
witness understands (or knows where he/she may obtain the necessary information regarding) the investigation
procedure, and in particular:


    •    that he/she may contact the investigators to discuss the planned interview if further or more specific
         information is required


    •    that a record of the interview may be passed to both the complainant and the alleged offender


    •    the prohibition on discussing any aspect of the case with any other person and that any breach may result
         in disciplinary action


    •    that he/she are entitled to be accompanied at interview by a trade union representative or a colleague


    •    that he/she has the right to avail of the Employee Assistance Service at any point during the investigation


The interview will be conducted on the lines of the procedure set out above. The investigators may decide, if they
see fit, to:


    •    interview colleagues of the complainant with whom he/she indicates he/she discussed the situation prior to
         the commencement of the investigation


    •    seek to contact others who may have witnessed the alleged harassment but have not been named by the
         complainant and/or the alleged offender (e.g. colleagues who were on duty at the same time(s) and
         location(s) where the bullying or harassment is alleged to have taken place)

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    •   seek whether other forms of corroborative evidence may be available, such as supporting documentation
        provided by the complainant and/or his/her representative, or other documents, files or records deemed to
        be appropriate to the investigation


Following the interview, the Chairperson of the investigation team will forward his/her notes to the interviewee
within seven days. Two copies of the interview record will be sent to the interviewees who will be requested to
review it and, if it is acceptable, sign and return one copy within seven days. If the interviewee considers the report
to be inaccurate or incomplete, he/she should notify any amendments, additions or points of clarification within
seven days. If in order, the Chairperson will send two copies of the amended record to the interviewee who will
return a signed copy within three days.


Stage 6 - Re-Interviews
If appropriate, the investigators may re-interview the complainant and/or an alleged offender or witness if new,
relevant information becomes available. The investigators should:


    •   put the new evidence to each party for comment


    •   allow either party and/or his/her representative an opportunity to make any final representations which they
        deem relevant


    •   keep comprehensive and legible notes and compile and finalise a record of each interview in accordance
        with the procedure previously set out


    •   advise the parties that copies of interview records may be made available to the other parties


    •   advise the parties of the mechanism by which a decision on the outcome of the investigation will be
        notified, i.e. by way of a letter to complainant/alleged offender and copied, if applicable, to their nominated
        trade union representatives


The steps and guidelines set out at Stages 3 - 5 above shall also be fully observed in any re-interviews conducted
in the investigators.




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THE INVESTIGATORS’ FINDINGS AND ACTION ARISING
In general the investigation of all complaints would be completed within six months.


At the completion of the investigation, a report determining whether an allegation of bullying or harassment has
been substantiated or not will be prepared. This report will include: the nature and details of the complaint, the
response of the alleged offender, and the conclusions of the investigation team. This report signed by the
Investigation team will be forwarded, by the Chairperson, to the Head of Human Resources within one month of the
investigation being completed


Both the complainant and person(s) complained of and, if applicable their nominated trade union representative will
be notified personally and in writing of the outcome of the investigation stage within two weeks of the matter being
considered by the Head of Human Resources.


Before any action is decided upon by management both parties (complainant and alleged offender) will be offered
an opportunity to comment on the findings of the investigation team.


If the allegation is substantiated, that is, if it is concluded that bullying or harassment has occurred, a disciplinary
enquiry will be initiated under the Institute’s normal disciplinary procedures. If the allegation is found to be false, a
disciplinary enquiry may similarly be initiated, in certain situations.


Disciplinary proceedings will be progressed to completion in the normal course and will not be delayed or
suspended should the staff member concerned already be or subsequently come under disciplinary notice on any
other count during the relevant time.


The Head of Human Resources will be responsible for informing the complainant and alleged offender(s) and, if
applicable, their nominated trade union representative of the outcome of the investigation and any disciplinary or
other action to be taken. The relevant Head of School/Line Manager and Director will also be advised of the
outcome.


Arising from the disciplinary procedures, the Head of Human Resources may recommend, in addition to or, in
appropriate cases, as an alternative to disciplinary action, that the offender(s) avail of counselling (to be arranged
by or through the Employee Assistance Service).


Counselling will continue to be available to the offender, if required, through the Employee Assistance Service after
the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings where dismissal is not recommended. In the event of another reported
incident a further investigation may be initiated.




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Post Investigation
Once the complaint has been dealt with, and appropriate action taken, arrangements will be put in place by Human
Resources to ensure that the behaviour of the interested parties will be kept under review so that any agreement
reached is being adhered to. Regular checks will be made to ensure that where an allegation has been
substantiated, the bullying/harassment has stopped and that there has been no victimisation for referring a
complaint in good faith. Retaliation of any kind against an employee for complaining or taking part in an
investigation concerning bullying/harassment at work is a serious disciplinary offence.



RECORDS
When proceedings have been completed, the investigation and disciplinary files and reports will be filed, on a
strictly confidential basis, with the Head of Human Resources.


At the beginning of each investigation, the HR Department will also prepare a pro forma Summary Complaint
Report (Appendix D) for record purposes. This record will be for the compilation of statistics which may be used
for reporting purposes, to identify trends and for management information purposes.



APPEAL PROCEDURES
Where either party wishes to appeal the outcome of an investigation, he/she may make a written submission to the
Director of Human Resources setting out the reason(s) for the appeal. The Director of Human Resources will
consider the reason(s) for the appeal and will initiate a further investigation which will focus only on the basis of the
appeal. The investigation will be conducted by a new investigation team who will report to the Director of Human
Resources. The outcome of the appeal will be notified to both the alleged offender and the complainant and, if
applicable, copied to the nominated trade union representative.


DISCIPLINARY ACTION
Where an allegation has been substantiated and the offender has been disciplined and wishes to appeal against
the severity of the disciplinary action imposed, the appeal should be made and will be dealt with in accordance with
the appeal provisions of the Institute’s disciplinary procedures.




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GENERAL PROVISIONS
If at any stage during the investigation, there is fear of physical assault, intimidation or retaliation, the Head of
Human Resources, in consultation with the investigation team and the line-manager of the staff concerned in the
complaint, will decide on the action to be taken. This may involve re-locating or suspending individual(s) involved,
without prejudice, as a precautionary measure.


If a change of work location is deemed appropriate at any stage during the process, it will normally be the alleged
offender rather than the complainant who will be re-assigned, if practicable. Where a change of work location
arises at any stage during the process it should be clearly understood that this is without prejudice to the parties to
the investigation. The Institute will take all reasonable steps to ensure that the matter is handled with sensitivity
and with due regard to the rights and responsibilities of all parties under this Policy.


The investigators may, at their discretion, avail of expert assistance at any point in their investigation.


The Employee Assistance Officer is available to offer support to any party, at all times.




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