GRIEVANCE AND DIGNITY AT WORK
POLICY AND PROCEDURE
Document control summary
Title Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure
Purpose of document To assist staff in informally and formally raising and resolving
grievances or issues of bullying, harassment or victimisation
Electronic file Trust Intranet
(network or intranet)
Version No. 1.0
Date of this draft March 2009. Effective from 1/11/09
Author(s) Rachel Barratt, Human Resources Manager
Responsibility for Director of Human Resources
Circulated to Executive and Trust Directors
(Names, titles and Joint Staff Committee – 30th September 2009
Next Review Date November 2011
Equality Impact March 2009
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 1
Version Control Summary
Version Date Author Status Comment
1 01.11.09 RB Final This policy revokes the
Grievance Policy and Procedure
V2.1 dated Feb 2008 and the
Bullying and Harassment Policy
and Procedure V2 dated Nov 07
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 2
GRIEVANCE AND DIGNITY AT WORK POLICY AND
1. Grievance and Dignity at work Policy and Procedure P. 3
2. Grievance Procedure P. 9
3. Dignity at Work Procedure P. 14
4. Appendix 1 – What is Mediation P. 22
5. Appendix 2 – Definitions of Bullying and Harassment P. 26
6. Appendix 3 – Differences of Fair Management and Unacceptable
Behaviour P. 30
7. Appendix 4 – Roles and Responsibilities P. 31
8. Appendix 5 – Support and Advice P. 34
9. Appendix 6 – Formal Investigation Guidelines P. 36
10. Appendix 7 – Investigating Complaints – Guidelines for
Interviewing staff P. 38
11. Investigating Complaints – Guidelines for interviewing the
alleged harasser or bully P. 40
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 3
GRIEVANCE AND DIGNITY AT WORK
POLICY & PROCEDURE
1. POLICY STATEMENT
1.1 East London NHS Foundation Trust (herein referred to as ‘the Trust’) is
committed to creating a work environment where everyone is treated with
dignity and respect and is committed to encouraging free and open
communication between staff and their managers to ensure that questions
and problems arising during the course of employment can be raised and
wherever possible resolved quickly.
1.2 In order to promote good employee relations, the Trust’s Grievance and
Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure provides a framework for resolving
grievances and disputes in a fair, reasonable, timely and consistent
manner at the earliest possible stage and as close to the point of origin as
possible. This policy therefore encourages proactive and meaningful
discussions to take place at the informal stage of these procedures.
2.1 Before entry into the formal grievance and disputes procedure, the
employee and/or their representative should first informally raise the
matter with their line manager. Most grievances and disputes are best
resolved informally in discussion between the employee and their line
manager, the two parties or formal mediation. The organisation seeks to
actively promote resolution at informal level, without recourse to the
formal stages of the procedure wherever possible. Formal resolution
should only be invoked if the informal stage has failed to settle the matter
or in the case of the Dignity at Work Procedure where the matter is
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 4
sufficiently serious to warrant formal action. This would not prohibit formal
agreements being made following informal resolution.
2.2 Effective communication and consultation at all stages of the procedure
are essential to provide operational efficiency, good practice and mutual
2.3 Other than in exceptional circumstances the status quo, i.e. the previously
agreed working and/or management arrangements, which applied before
the grievance or dispute, will continue through the informal stages of this
procedure. Once a decision has been made at a formal stage or an
agreement made at an informal stage, new arrangements may apply. In
some cases redeployment may be considered. Please refer to section
22.0 of Dignity at Work Procedure for redeployment.
2,4 Records of any individual grievance will be kept on both the complainant
and respondent’s HR file for a period of 1 year, detailing the nature of the
grievance raised, the Trust’s response, any action taken and the reasons
for it. All records will be kept confidential and retained in accordance with
the Data Protection Act 1998. After 1 year records will be removed from
both employees HR file and destroyed.
2.5 Records of complaints raised under the Dignity at Work Procedure will be
kept in both individuals HR files containing a letter confirming whether
informal/formal resolution has been sought and what this resolution
constitutes of or a letter recording the withdrawal of the complaint.
2.6 Both staff, managers and Union Representatives should consult and co
operate with the Human Resources department at all stages of the
grievance and disputes process.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 5
2.7 All employees will be protected under current employment legislation in
the operation of this procedure.
3.1 This policy and procedure applies to all Trust employees including
locums, students, honorary staff and bank workers directly employed by the
3.2 As the Trust has integrated services (seconded staff from other
organisations) any seconded person who wishes to raise a dispute
complaint against a member of the Trust must do so under this procedure.
For staff wishing to raise a complaint against a seconded member of staff
this should be raised with the seconded employees line manager in the
first instance and would usually be managed under the seconded
employees organisational policies and procedure unless stated otherwise
under a formal secondment agreement.
3.3 This policy and procedure applies to both individual and collective
grievances or disputes.
3.4 The grievance and Dignity at Work Policy will not be used in situations
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 6
• the Trust has no discretion or authority in the matter e.g. Agenda
for Change, Medical and Dental or Very Senior Managers
contractual terms and conditions of service (except for
• Major organisational change where separate guidance has been
• Are raised by patients or other service users;
• Relate to concerns about malpractice that should be handled by
the Whistleblowing Policy or Disciplinary Policy and Procedure;
• Concern Income Tax, National or Graduated Insurance, pension
and pension rights;
• Relate to issues of strategic policy for the organisation;
• Are subject to a separate procedure such as the Disciplinary
4. INDUSTRIAL ACTION
4.1 No withdrawal of labour, lockout or other industrial action will take place if
all stages of this procedure have not been exhausted in accordance with
the stated time limits
5.1 All employees have the right to be represented by a recognised Trade
Union /professional body/Staff organisation at all formal stages of the
grievance and disputes policy and procedure.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 7
5.2 Managers should inform an employee of their right to representation in
writing if the formal stage of either the Grievance or Dignity at Work Policy
and Procedure is invoked.
5.3 Where an accredited representative of a trade union or professional
association has a grievance or dispute the Human Resources Department
must always seek to discuss the details of the grievance with a full time
official of the organisation concerned.
5.4 Line managers handling grievances and disputes should work in
partnership with their assigned Human Resources representative.
6.1 In line with the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)
Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, April 2009,
the Trust will aim to resolve all grievances in as timely a manner as
possible, bearing in mind genuine operational time factors. Where
resolution to a grievance or dispute is being delayed various options may
be considered to ensure a timely resolution to the matter e.g Union
representation in the absence of an employee, written submissions where
formal meetings cannot be arranged/agreed.
7.0 TIME LIMITS
7.1 Any grievances or disputes (including complaints raised under the Dignity
at Work Procedure) raised under the informal or formal stage of this
procedure should be raised within 3 months of the incident occurring or
the last/latest act of perceived bullying and/or harassment. In exceptional
circumstances e.g a delay to try to resolve the issue informally without
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 8
success, this time period may be extended. The manager in discussion
with the Human Resources Manager will have authority to extend this
three month period if deemed necessary.
7.2 Every effort should be made to resolve formal complaints within the
timeframes indicated at each stage and within 60 working days for formal
investigations under the Dignity at Work Procedure.
7.3 Where the grievance or dispute relates to the immediate manager, the
matter should be referred to the next most senior manager in the line
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 9
8.0 A grievance exists where an individual employee or group of employees
feel that they have cause for complaint in relation to their employment.
It is not possible to outline an exhaustive list of issues that might give rise
to a grievance but some of the more common ones include:
• Duties of employment;
• Interpretation of terms and conditions of service;
• Operational management decisions;
• Working procedures and practices;
• Work Relations
• Equal Opportunities
• Health and Safety
9.0 Stage 1
9.1 Staff are encouraged to raise and seek to resolve problems and concerns
with their manager as part of their normal working relationship unless the
Manager is the subject of the grievance in which case the grievance will
be raised with the Manager’s line Manager.
9.2 The Manager will meet with the individual who has raised the grievance
giving them the opportunity to discuss the issue. The Manager will then
present the individual with options available to achieve a satisfactory
resolution around the grievance. The options available are:
• An informal meeting with the Manager and the individual
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 10
• Agreed formal mediation
• A formal investigation into the issues conducted by the line
9.3 Before the grievance goes to a formal investigation every effort should be
made to resolve the grievance on a more informal level, other solutions
• Mediated discussions with the Manager and the member of staff;
• An informal representative meeting with the Manager but it should
be very clear that this is the informal part of the procedure, a
Human Resources Representative and/or Union Representative
may also be present at this meeting
9.4 Both parties should keep written notes of any informal discussions that
have taken place. The outcome at Stage 1 should be confirmed by the
line manager in writing within 5 days, of the outcome being communicated
verbally, together with any action agreed.
9.5 A review meeting may be offered to both parties following the outcome of
the meeting allowing a reasonable time frame from the date of the
outcome meeting and the review meeting. The review meeting is optional
and can be declined by either/both parties if felt unnecessary.
10.0 Stage 2 – Final Appeal Stage – Appeal Hearing
10.1 If the aggrieved employee is dissatisfied with the decision made at Stage
1 they should write to the next Manager in line (as a minimum this
manager should be a Head or Service or an Assistant Director of
Service), within 10 working days of the receipt of the letter confirming the
outcome of the meeting held under Stage 1, outlining why they feel the
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 11
issues have not been resolved. The letter should be hand delivered or
sent recorded delivery to allow for record of proof of delivery and receipt.
The Head of Service/Assistant Director of Service will arrange a final
appeal hearing to consider the matter. The employee will be asked to
submit his/her full case in writing with all supporting evidence and
information stating why they disagree with the decision made at stage 1,
10 working days before the Stage 2 Appeal Hearing. The Manager who
made the decision at Stage 1 of the procedure will provide a management
case laying out the details of the grievance and decision made at the
Stage 1 meeting 10 working days prior to the Stage 2 Appeal Hearing.
Both cases will be exchanged 5 days prior to the Stage 2 Appeal Hearing.
10.2 The Manager Chairing the Stage 2 appeal hearing should respond to the
employee within 10 working days of receipt of the letter with a date for a
Stage 2 appeal hearing to discuss the grievance. At the hearing the
management case will set out the details of the grievance and the
reasons for the manager’s decision at Stage 1. The staff side case will set
out clearly the reasons for contesting the decision taken at stage 1.
10.3 The appeal panel will be convened to hear the grievance within 14 days
and no more than 28 days of receipt of the appeal from the employee. If
the complainant or Stage 1 line manager are unable to attend the first
date set for the Stage 2 appeal hearing an alternative date may be
arranged. Should either party not be able to attend this date the Stage 2
meeting may go ahead and a decision made in their absence.
10.4 The Appeal panel will comprise of up to 3 members and not less than 2.
A senior member of the Human Resources Department should be present
(Assistant Director of Human Resources or a Human Resources Manager
not previously involved at any stage of this complaint) to advise the panel
and record the decision.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 12
10.5 The appeal panel will consider both verbal and written presentations at
the Appeal Hearing and a decision will be given to the employee within 5
working days of the date of the Stage 2 appeal hearing.
10.6 The decision of the appeal panel is final and no further appeals are
11.0 Collective Grievances
11.1 Where a grievance is lodged by a group of employees, it will be dealt with
and heard on behalf of the group as a whole where this is practicable.
The group will elect a maximum of 2 people to present their case.
11.2 The process outlined in Stages 1 and 2 above will be followed for
12.0 Vexatious Complaints
12.1 If, after investigation into a complaint the line manager believes that the
employee has made the complaint vexatiously (put forward with the
intention of causing deliberate harm to the person against whom the claim
has been made) then they may decide if disciplinary action should be
taken against the complainant.
13.0 Outstanding Disciplinary Matters relating to Grievance
13.1 Where any outstanding disciplinary matters are still ongoing and an
individual raises a grievance relating to the case under investigation the
original disciplinary investigation will continue and the individual will be
asked to raise the issue as a part of their defence. However, if the points
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 13
raised materially effect the outcome of the disciplinary issue the
disciplinary processes will need to be put on hold and the points raised
will be considered under the Grievance Procedure before proceeding with
the original disciplinary investigation.
DIGNITY AT WORK PROCEDURE
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 14
The Trust expects all staff to commit to treating one another with respect
and dignity and wishes to promote a work environment that is free from
unacceptable behaviour. However, it is recognised that sometimes acts
of bullying and harassment or other forms of unacceptable behaviour do
occur. The Dignity at Work Procedure provides a framework for resolving
these types of disputes in either an informal or formal way. This
procedure encourages proactive resolution on an informal level for most
16.0 Informal Action
16.1 The aim of the Trust is to ensure that all complaints or issues of bullying,
harassment or unacceptable behaviour are resolved carefully and
sensitively. Often individuals accused of unacceptable behaviour or
bullying and harassment will be unaware of how their behaviour has
affected the complainant and by raising the issue informally either directly
or through a workplace advocate will be enough.
16.2 The Trust encourages complainants to follow the informal stages of this
process in the first instance in order to give the alleged an opportunity to
amend their behaviour before formal action is taken. Only where cases of
bullying, harassment or unacceptable behaviour are extremely serious,
where informal action has not stopped the behaviour or where one or both
parties do not agree to formal mediation will the formal process be
17.0 Submitting a complaint
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 15
17.1 In all cases other than where an individual has addressed the issues
directly with the alleged aggressor a written complaint will be necessary.
Where written complaints are submitted these need to be presented to the
alleged aggressors line manager. The written complaint must clearly
describe the offending behaviour in detail including dates, venues or
alleged incidents and any potential witnesses. The complaint should also
detail the impact of the behaviour. The letter should make clear how the
complainant wishes the matter to be dealt with and under which option
stated in this procedure. The following options for consideration are:
• Taking Personal Action
• Mediation with support of line manager
• Formal Mediation
• Formal Investigation
18.0 Taking Personal Action
18.1 In some cases the complainant may judge that there is scope to attempt
to approach the individual they believe to have bullied, harassed or used
unacceptable behaviour in order to explain their perception of their
behaviour which is considered to be offensive and why, and to ask them
to stop using such behaviour. It is also an opportunity for the complainant
to gain an understanding into why the respondent exhibits certain
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 16
19.0 Mediation with support of line manager
19.1 The complainant may request a manager to assist in resolving the issues
that have arisen. This may involve the manager meeting with the
individual to establish the issues, meeting with the alleged to inform them
of the individuals concerns and how this is affecting them and possibly
asking both parties to meet in the presence of the line manager to talk
through the issues with an aim of coming to a satisfactory resolution for
both. A successful meeting will result with a written agreement between
both parties. The written agreement will be sent by the line manager to
both parties and a copy of the agreement stored on each individuals HR
20.0 Formal Mediation
20.1 Research indicates that most acts of unacceptable behaviour are best
resolved with mediation. The Trust has a list of formally trained mediators
who are able to conduct the formal mediation process (please see
appendix 1 for information on Mediation process). Mediation is a process
of negotiation and is generally used when disputes exist among two or
more parties. The Mediator is not there to form or make any judgments or
decisions but is there to help both parties reach a mutual decision which
will assist them to move forward.
20.2 Formal Mediation will usually involve the Mediator meeting with both
parties individually to explain the Mediation process, to establish the
details of the matter at hand and to ask both parties to commit to the
mediation process. The Mediator may speak to both parties individually
on a number of occasions before bringing both parties together. At the
joint meeting the aim is to gain agreement from both parties on a way
forward that they are both committed to and to establish a contract for
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 17
agreement. This may or may not involve a written agreement. In some
cases the mediator may gain agreement from both parties without going
to a joint meeting if requested and agreed by both parties.
20.3 Should either party wish to resolve the matter via the mediation process
they should do so by writing to the line manager of the alleged harasser
who will, in conjunction with the local Human Resources
Manager/Adviser, establish if mediation is accepted by both parties and
appoint a trained mediator to undertake the mediation.
20.4 Following successful mediation both parties may be offered an opportunity
to review the outcome allowing a reasonable time period from the final
mediation meeting and review meeting.
21.0 Formal Stage – Formal Investigation
21.1 The formal stage of this policy will be applied only where:
• The matter has been raised informally but the issues/concerns
continue and/or mediation has been unsuccessful
• The matter has been raised informally but the claim has been
The matter is sufficiently serious to warrant moving directly to a
formal stage without following the informal stage first.
One or neither party has agreed to Formal Mediation
22.0 Suspension and Temporary Redeployment
22.1 Prior to any formal action being taken the relevant line manager along
with the relevant Human Resources Representative may consider the
appropriateness of suspension or temporary redeployment of either party
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 18
until resolution has been sought. This action may be taken to relieve the
stress and pressure on one or both and/or to prevent the risk of further
22.2 Suspension of the member of staff against whom the complaint has been
made should be considered where the manager believes that it is in the
best interest of either the individual, the organisation or both. It may be
appropriate or as a last resort to suspend both members of staff. It will be
made clear at all times that suspension is a neutral act and does not imply
that any misconduct has occurred. Any suspension will be on full pay.
22.3 Temporary redeployment of one or both parties may also be considered.
In normal circumstances if the complainant expresses concerns of both
parties continuing to work together until a resolution has been sought the
complainant may be redeployed.
22.4 Formal complaints should be raised with the line manager of the person
who may have committed bullying, harassment or unacceptable behaviour
in writing. The line manager, after taking advice from Human Resources
and establishing whether the matter has been through the informal stages
(if appropriate) may speak to a trained mediator about the complaint to
establish if there may be scope through formal mediation to resolve the
matter (this would not be appropriate if it has already been established
that the matter is sufficiently serious to warrant immediate formal
investigation) and would usually only apply where both parties have
declined mediation. If the mediator believes that there is little scope to
resolve the matter through formal mediation the line manager may
instigate a formal investigation. In some instances the Mediator may meet
with parties who have declined formal mediation to explain the mediation
process to them to establish if formal mediation may be deemed
appropriate by the individual/s. Both individuals may attend this meeting
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 19
with a Union Representative or a colleague. The individuals may still
decline Mediation at this stage.
23.1 Where an investigation is deemed appropriate, the manager, in
conjunction with Human Resources will appoint an independent (not
working with the complainant or alleged aggressors’ work environment),
experienced investigator(s) to carry out a thorough, impartial investigation.
The investigator should be appointed within 21 working days from the
date of the letter of complaint. The investigation should be completed
within 60 working days (see appendix 6 for guidance on investigations).
24.0 Outcome of investigation
24.1 Following submission of the final draft of the report the Head of Service or
their designated deputy will decide what action will follow. This may
involve the following courses of action:
• No further action – no case to answer
• Recommendations for action
• Disciplinary action
24.2 Following a decision made on receipt of the final report both parties will be
written to informing them of the outcome. In some cases the manager
may call an individual meeting with both parties to feedback the outcome
of the investigation and any findings or recommendations.
25.0 Vexatious Complaints
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 20
25.1 If, after a formal investigation of complaint and following submission of the
final report the line manager believes that the employee has made the
complaint vexatiously (put forward with the intention of causing deliberate
harm to the person against whom the claim has been made) they may
decide to instigate disciplinary proceedings against the complainant.
26.1 If the complainant is not satisfied with the decision and/or
recommendations they may appeal against the outcome by writing to the
Director of Human Resources within 10 working days of receipt of the
letter notifying them of the decision. This letter must clearly state their
grounds for appeal. The letter must be hand delivered or sent via
recorded delivery to allow for record of proof of delivery and receipt. The
employee will be asked to submit his/her full case in writing with all
supporting evidence and information stating why they disagree with the
outcome 10 working days before the Appeal Hearing. The Manager who
made the decision and communicated the outcome will provide a
management case stating how they came to their decision 10 working
days prior to the Appeal Hearing. Both cases will be exchanged with both
parties 5 days prior to the Appeal Hearing.
26.2 The Appeal panel will be convened within 2 weeks and no later than 4
weeks of receipt of the appeal letter. The Appeal panel will comprise of
up to 3 members and not less than 2. A senior member of the Human
Resources Department should be present (Assistant Director of Human
Resources or a Human Resources Manager not previously involved at
any stage of this complaint) to advise the panel and record the decision.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 21
26.3 The appeal panel will consider both verbal and written presentations from
both parties at the Appeal Hearing along with the original investigatory
report and a decision will be given to both employees within 5 working
days of the date appeal hearing.
26.4 The decision of the appeal panel is final and no further appeals are
27.0 Monitor and Review
27.1 This policy and procedure will be reviewed every two years with
amendments being made as appropriate following consideration of Staff
Side and Senior Management. The effectiveness of this policy will be
monitored every six months by receiving feedback from staff and their
representatives and managers, statistical analysis on the use of mediation
and number of informal and formal complaints raised during the
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 22
What is mediation?
“Mediation is a process of negotiation, generally used when a dispute exists
among two or more parties, conducted by a trained mediator who works with all
parties involved so that their true interests are identified and a resolution is
achieved that responds effectively and fully to those interests”.
Mediation is particularly appropriate when there is willingness to resolve the
issues by both parties and when there is an ongoing working relationship.
Role of the Mediator
The role of the mediator is to facilitate and manage the entire mediation process,
to understand the key issues and help both parties entering in mediation on a
voluntary basis to reach a mutual agreement, which will assist them to move
forward in the future. The mediator is also responsible to manage the mediation
process from the beginning to the end,
The format of a mediation meeting
Mediation is usually carried out using the facilitative model, which is based on a
mediator which facilitates the meeting between the parties in conflict adopting a
non directive approach.
In the facilitative model the mediator works with the parties strengths and
weaknesses. It is based on the mediator being impartial and encouraging the
parties to come to a solution to the problems they are facing. It is usually done
by a single mediator although it may be possible for co-mediation to take place
within the facilitative model.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 23
There are 5 stages within this model, which are not always linear, so for example
it may be possible that during the mediation process, the mediator goes back to
The 5 stages are as follows:
• First contact with the parties
• Setting the scene
• Building and writing agreements
• Closure and follow up
First contact with the parties
The first contact stage is when the mediator meets the parts individually. It is
during this first contact that the mediator will build the parties understanding and
explain his or her role, which is to facilitate the meeting and manage the process
The mediator will explain in detail what mediation entails, the principles
(voluntary, impartial, confidential, non judgmental and non binding) and try to get
the parties’ commitment to take part of mediation, which is different from
persuading or putting pressure on them. It is also at this stage that both parties
will be able to explain in detail what the issues surrounding the conflict is, what is
it that they wish to gain from the mediation process.
The mediator will manage expectations, try to understand some common ground
between the parties, and also agree what the ground rules during the joint
meeting will be.
This first contact is the opportunity for parties to ask any questions, ask for
clarifications and for the mediator to manage any anxieties they may have
regarding the process.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 24
Setting the Scene
Setting the scene is when both parties come together into the mediation. Here
the mediator will agree with both parties the ground rules (which will have been
discussed during the first contact meeting). The mediator will set the scene,
again, explaining his/her role and going over the principles of mediator again;
remind both parties again of the process, the structure of the meeting and how
he will conduct the meeting, for example who will go first, what needs to happen
when one party is talking, for example asking for both to listen carefully, be very
honest and open, abide by the ground rules, etc.
The next stage is called exploring and here is when the issues will be discussed.
First each party will have an opportunity to explain what their issues are. Both
will be given equal opportunity to explore their main concerns. After each party
has had an opportunity to explain their issues, the mediator will summarise what
they believe to be the issues. Here, the mediator will try to take out the emotion,
he or she will reframe what is being said and put an agenda of the main issues,
which will then be explored in turn.
The next stage, which will probably happen intermittently with the one above
(going through every item on the agenda) is when both parties reach a
consensus, for example what they are agreeing to.
The final stage is the closure. The mediator writes up the agreement (if it was
agreed that a written agreement would be put together as on occasions, parties
will only accept verbal agreements). Give two copies to both parties to sign, date
and keep a copy each. As part of the closure process the mediator again thanks
both parties for taking part on the mediation process. He or she reminds both
parties of the confidentiality issues around it and any follow up that may be
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 25
required and may be agreed. The mediator reminds the parties that he or she
will not be involved any further and he or she wishes them well.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 26
Definitions of Bullying and Harassment
Harassment, in general terms, is unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of
men and women in the workplace. It may be related to age, sex, race,
disability, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or personal
characteristics of the individual, and may be persistent or an isolated
incident. The key is that the actions or comments are viewed as
demeaning and unacceptable to the recipient.
Harassment can take many different forms and examples, which are not
• persistent incidents
• a single serious incident
• unwanted physical conduct including unnecessary touching,
assault, physical threats, insulting or abusive behaviour or
• verbal abuse such as anonymous answerphone messages,
offensive language or innuendo, telling offensive jokes,
name calling or spreading malicious rumours;
• non-verbal including display, storage or distribution of
offensive material (including information held on the
computer) such as pornographic or suggestive pictures, or
written material or visual material and graffiti, leering or
staring, ignoring or avoiding colleagues;
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 27
• covert or disguised behaviour such as social isolation and
non-cooperation, implicit threats, and pressure for sexual
• incidents associated with work such as stalking
Such behaviour is unacceptable if:
• it is unwanted, unreasonable and offensive to the recipient;
• it is used as the basis for employment decisions
• it creates a hostile or ineffective working environment
Behaviour that any reasonable person would realise is likely to offend will
be harassment without the recipient having to say in advance that they
find it offensive such as unwanted physical contact.
Where it may not be so clear in advance that the behaviour would be
unwelcome to, or what could offend a particular person e.g. certain
banter, flirting, asking someone for a drink after work, then the recipient
should make it clear by words or conduct that such behaviour is
unacceptable to him/her. If the behaviour continues after it has been
made clear that it is unacceptable then it may be perceived as
Bullying differs from harassment and discrimination in that the focus is
rarely based on age, sex, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation or
nationality. The focus is often on competence, or rather the alleged lack
of competence of the bullied person.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 28
Bullying is any persistent behaviour, directed against an individual, which
is intimidating, offensive or malicious and which undermines the
confidence and self-esteem of the recipient. For formal and informal
investigative purposes under this procedure Bullying needs to be
measurable and demonstrable. For acts that have caused offence to the
recipient but that cannot be measured or demonstrated please refer to
Dignity at Work Policy.
Bullying can take many different forms and examples, which are not
• sadistic or aggressive behaviour over time
• exclusion from meetings
• humiliation or ridiculing
• criticism in public that is designed to humiliate
• persistent, unwanted criticism in private
• singling out one person for criticism where there is a common
• offensive or abusive personal remarks
• treating colleagues as children, not as adults
• undermining staff by replacing their areas of responsibility
unreasonably or without justification
• setting unattainable targets
• withholding information to deliberately affect a colleague’s
• claiming credit for someone else’s work
• constantly changing work deadlines or work guidelines to cause
someone to fail
• making false allegations
• preventing people from taking up training and development
opportunities in line with agreed PDP or agreed development plan.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 29
Bullying or harassment may be by an individual against an individual (perhaps
by someone in a position of authority such as a manager or supervisor) or
involve groups of people. It may be obvious or insidious. Whatever form its
takes it is unwarranted and unwelcome to the individual.
What is Victimisation?
Victimisation is treating someone less favourably than others because s/he has
complained (formally or otherwise) that someone has been bullying and
harassing him/her or someone else. Similarly, if the person has supported
someone to make a complaint, or given evidence in relation to a complaint of
bullying and harassment.
The Trust will take appropriate action to deal with any alleged victimisation. This
would include an investigation and, if found, may include disciplinary action
against the employee who victimised another person
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 30
The difference between fair management
and unacceptable behaviours
Within the Trust there is an expectation that managers fulfill their duties and
responsibilities. It is reasonable to expect a manager to carry out their function
in a fair, firm and consistent manner. This may involve:
Issuing reasonable requests and/or instructions and expecting members of
staff to undertake these and generally manage performance and conduct
Set expected standards of performance supported by relevant appraisal,
performance management framework, job description or KSF outline and
Disciplining staff for misconduct and poor performance where appropriate
Implementing action in respect of general Trust policies e.g management of
Where these functions are carried out in a fair and reasonable way they will
not constitute acts of unacceptable behaviour, bullying or harassment or
Firm/Fair Management Bullying/Harassment
Consistent and fair Aggressive, inconsistent and unfair
Determined to achieve the best results, Unreasonable and inflexible
but reasonable and flexible
Knows their own mind and is clear about Believes that they are always right, has
their own ideas, but is willing to consult fixed opinions, believes that they know
with others best and disregards others views
Insists upon high standards of service in Insists on high standards of service and
quality of and behaviour within the team behaviour but blames others if things
Ask for peoples views, listens and Tells people what will be happening,
assimilates feedback does not listen
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 31
Role and Responsibilities
The Trust will ensure that: -
• all staff are made aware of their personal responsibilities under this
• formal training to support this policy is provided to appropriate staff, in
particular people who investigate formal complaints, and those who
support and advise individuals who complain or are complained about
• all staff are informed about the contents of this policy and complaints
• all staff have access to Harassment Support Advisors if they so wish
• all staff have access to independent counselling if they so wish
• Policy provisions comply with UK law
• The Policy is monitored and reviewed formally on a regular basis with
staff side representatives
Managers and supervisors have a particular duty to ensure that their own
behaviour is beyond reproach at all times and that harassment and
bullying does not occur in the work areas for which they are responsible.
Managers and supervisors are essential in implementing this policy. They
do this by:-
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 32
• ensuring good communication with staff and between staff by
operating and open door policy, and discussing bullying and
harassment issues at team meetings
• setting examples and standards of behaviour in the workplace that
include not bullying and harassing staff, and being aware of how
their behaviour affects other people
• creating an environment and culture where destructive forms of
behaviour are not tolerated and where everyone is treated with
respect and dignity
• recognising destructive behaviour and taking action where it occurs
• ensuring staff know about this policy and know how to raise
harassment and bullying issues
• working to find solutions to bullying and harassment cases
• supporting staff who may feel they are being harassed and bullied
• dealing with any complaints fairly, thoroughly, quickly and
confidentially, respecting the feelings of all concerned
• ensuring that there is no retaliation against the person who made
• recognising that gossip about bullying and harassment can be
All members of staff have a responsibility to behave appropriately in the
workplace and treat each other with dignity and respect. They should be
aware of the issues and both the serious and genuine problems which
harassment can cause.
All staff are responsible for adhering to this policy. They are required to:-
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 33
• treat all colleagues with dignity and respect and be aware of how their
behaviour can affect other people, for example, by ensuring that
normal workplace banter enhances rather than undermines teamwork
• support colleagues who are being bullied or harassed and bring it to
the attention of their line manager, or other appropriate senior
• respond promptly to any feedback and advice on their behaviour, be it
from a colleague or manager
Human Resources Department
The Human Resources Department has a responsibility to ensure that the
policy is followed fairly and consistently. Their duties include:-
• advising managers on the application of the policy
• advising managers and staff, where appropriate, when individuals feel
that they are being harassed or bullied in the course of their
• ensuring the effective implementation of the policy
• monitoring incidences of bullying and harassment and initiating
appropriate action reviewing and amending the policy as necessary
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 34
Support and Advice
The Trust is committed to achieving informal resolution of complaints
relating to harassment where possible.
In line with this approach, a series of options have been put in place to
enable staff to be supported. This support will be provided to
complainants, alleged perpetrators and any witnesses.
Harassment Support Advisors
The Harassment Support Advisors are drawn from a wide range of jobs
across the Trust and have been provided with specialist training. They
are an independent and confidential resource for both the complainant
and alleged harasser/bully. As part of their role they:-
o provide empathetic assistance to staff with complaints of bullying and
o explain how the procedures for making a complaint operate both
informally and formally
o establish and provide support as required for the complainant through
The Trust offers an external, confidential counselling service for its staff,
which staff may self refer themselves to.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 35
Occupational Health Service
Any member of staff who is involved in a claim of bullying and harassment
may find it helpful to talk to the occupational health service. Staff have
the right to self refer to occupational health.
The Trust recognises the important role trade unions play in addressing
harassment and members are encouraged to approach these
representatives regarding their concerns. The Trust will work in
conjunction with the trade unions in addressing unacceptable and
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 36
Formal Investigation Guidelines
Role of the investigating officer
The role of the investigating officer will be to gather the facts of the case
by collating written statements relating to the complaint, conducting
interviews with the relevant parties concerned with the complaint and
gather any other relevant documentation. They will also:-
In writing inform the alleged aggressor of:
- the complaint (in most cases the original complaint letter will be
given to the alleged aggressor
- the possibility of disciplinary action if the allegations are found
- their right to be accompanied at any formal meetings as a part of
the investigatory process
- their right to fully respond to the allegations
Interview the alleged aggressor
Interview the complainant
Interview any relevant witnesses
Produce a written report detailing their findings and any supporting
Present the report to the appropriate line manager/senior manager
Advice can be sought through Human Resources throughout the full
Upon completion of the investigation, the investigating officer(s) should
immediately prepare a written report for the manager who instigated the
investigation. The report should contain the following:-
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 37
Introduction/reasons for the investigation
Method of investigation
Individuals seen as a part of the investigation
Summary of evidence given by all parties providing evidence as a part
of the investigation
Conclusion (the person investigating must come to a conclusion about
which version of events is most credible)
Statements and other relevant written material to be appended
Completion of the report
The first draft of the report will be submitted to the relevant Human
Resources Representative for comments. This Human Resources
Representative will not be involved in any further matters concerning this
case. Once the final draft report has been completed this will be passed
onto the relevant line manager by Human Resources.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 38
Investigation Complaints - Guidelines for
interviewing the person complaining
The person(s) investigating the complaint should first find out the facts from the
point of view of the person complaining. At interview ask questions such as:-
o what happened?
o in what context did this happen?
o who was involved?
o when did the incident take place?
o how did you react?
o was this the first time this has happened?
o tell me about the other occasions?
o did anyone see/hear this or a previous incident?
o is there any physical, documentation, or other evidence of the incident?
o have you talked about this incident to anyone?
o how has it affected you?
o what do you want to happen to resolve this situation?
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 39
Questions that should not be asked include:-
o what were you wearing at the time?
o did you do anything to lead him/her on?
o surely s/he was only joking?
o I know the person you are talking about. I can’t believe s/he would do
something like that. Are you sure that there hasn’t been a
o do you really want me to take this complaint further?
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 40
Investigation Complaints - Guidelines for interviewing the
alleged harasser or bully
The alleged harasser or bully must be given a full and fair opportunity to explain
his or her version of the events that have taken place. It is helpful to know the
complainant’s version of events before the seeing the alleged harasser/bully.
Questions for the alleged harasser/bully should include:-
o X has described an incident to me and says that you were involved. Can
you tell me anything about it?
o X has told me that s/he asked you not to behave in this way. Why do you
think X asked you this?
o are there any witnesses who saw what happened?
o how did X react when this incident took place?
Often in cases of harassment the alleged harasser/bully may give one of the
o I did it, but I thought X wanted me to
o I did it, but I didn’t think it bothered X
o I always behave like that with other staff
o I did not do it
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 41
If the explanation is one of the first two listed, the person investigating should
find out what led them to believe this. Harassment and bullying are unwelcome,
and no one actively solicits or invites unwelcome conduct. The alleged
harasser/bully may claim that s/he thought that their behaviour was welcome or
acceptable. S/he may not deny that the conduct or behaviour occurred, and
might state that it was freely entered into. S/he may feel that the allegation is
being made because of a particular action or decision in the workplace that has
adversely affected the person complaining. Also that this is an opportunity to
‘get back’ at him or her.
In an interview with an alleged bully it is important to ask why s/he thinks the
person complaining feels they are being bullied. The alleged bully may respond
that they have a particular style of working that the person complaining finds
difficult to cope with. Find out what it is about their behaviour that causes these
If the person complaining’s work performance is the relevant issue:
o establish what the alleged bully has been doing to help the person
complaining meet the standards or targets
o check that training and support is provided if new tasks are allocated
o identify whether the person complaining thinks that the standard of his or her
own work has dropped
o check if work is programmed with realistic deadlines and clear instructions
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 42
o establish whether goal posts get changed, and if the person complaining is
criticised for failing to anticipate this
If there are some warning signs that indicate bullying has taken place the person
investigating should establish:-
o has there been a new line manager?
o have jobs changes recently?
o do complaints sound trivial?
o is there a pattern of ill treatment?
o are there accounts of persistent undermining?
o have the complainant’s personal standards been consistent?
o does the person complaining believe the mistakes are their own fault?
o is the person complaining under close scrutiny?
The person investigating must come to a conclusion about which version of
events is most credible, and resist any temptation to apply their own standards
to the seriousness of the complaint. The person on the receiving end is the
judge of whether particular behaviour is offensive. The case of the person
complaining will be stronger if s/he complained at the time, or made notes of the
incident and the response. However, take into account that the person
complaining may have been too upset or distressed to do so, or may not have
thought of it at the time.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 43
In harassment cases where the alleged harasser says that the behaviour has
been welcomed on a previous occasion, s/he must be able to show how and
where this occurred and that the person complaining welcomed it.
Someone who is being harassed or bullied may delay complaining fearing
repercussions. They may believe that they can sort out the situation themselves.
If there has been a delay in complaining, the investigation must find out why.
If the alleged harasser/bully admits ‘I did it but I didn’t think it bothered X’ the
situation may be relatively easy to resolve. It could be implied that if they had
known that the behaviour or conduct was offensive they would not have acted in
that way. This explanation is not acceptable where the person complaining has
previously told the alleged harasser/bully that the behaviour is unacceptable.
Grievance and Dignity at Work Policy and Procedure 44