Mental Health and Life ( The Company) seeks to provide a work environment in which all employees are treated with respect and dignity and that is free of harassment and bullying based upon age, disability, gender reassignment, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief, sex and/or sexual orientation. In this policy, these are known as the ‘protected characteristics’.
Employees have a duty to co-operate with Mental Health and Life to make sure that this policy is effective in preventing harassment or bullying. Employees must not harass, bully or intimidate other employees for reasons related to one or more of the protected characteristics. Such harassment not only contravenes the Company’s policy but it may also constitute unlawful discrimination. Such behaviour will be treated as potential gross misconduct under the Company’s disciplinary procedure and could render the employee liable to summary dismissal. Employees should bear in mind that they can be held personally liable for any act of unlawful harassment. Employees who commit serious acts of harassment may also be guilty of a criminal offence.
All employees are responsible for conducting themselves in accordance with this policy and the Company will not condone or tolerate any form of harassment, bullying or intimidation, whether engaged in by employees or by outside third parties who do business with Mental Health and Life, such as clients, customers, contractors and suppliers. The Company will take appropriate action against any third parties who are found to have committed an act of improper or unlawful harassment against its employees.
Employees should draw the attention of their line manager to suspected cases of harassment, bullying or intimidation. Employees must not victimise or retaliate against an employee who has made allegations or complaints of harassment or who has provided information about such harassment. Such behaviour will be treated as potential gross misconduct under the Company’s disciplinary procedure. Employees should support colleagues who suffer such treatment and are making a complaint.
This policy covers bullying and harassment both in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, for example, during business trips, at external training events and at work-related social events.
Bullying and harassment
Bullying is offensive or intimidating behaviour or an abuse or misuse of power which undermines or humiliates an employee.
An employee unlawfully harasses another employee if they engage in unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic, and the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating the other employee’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that other employee.
An employee also unlawfully harasses another employee if they engage in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, and the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating the other employee’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that other employee.
Finally, an employee unlawfully harasses another employee if they or a third party engage in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or that is related to gender reassignment or sex, the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating the other employee’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that other employee, and because of that other employee’s rejection of or submission to the conduct, they treat that other employee less favourably than they would treat them if they had not rejected, or submitted to, the conduct.
The unwanted conduct will still amount to harassment if it is based on the protected characteristic of a third party with whom the employee is associated and not on the employee’s own protected characteristic, or if it was directed at someone other than the employee, or even at nobody in particular, but they witnessed it. In addition, harassment can include cases where the unwanted conduct occurs because it is perceived that an employee has a particular protected characteristic, when in fact they do not.
Conduct may be harassment whether or not the person intended to offend. Something intended as a joke or as office banter may offend another person. This is because different employees find different levels of behaviour acceptable and everyone has the right to decide for themselves what behaviour they find acceptable to them.
Behaviour which a reasonable person would realise would be likely to offend an employee will always constitute harassment without the need for the employee having to make it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable, for example, touching someone in a sexual way. With other forms of behaviour, it may not always be clear in advance that it will offend a particular employee, for example, office banter and jokes. In these cases, the behaviour will constitute harassment if the conduct continues after the employee has made it clear, by words or by their conduct, that such behaviour is unacceptable to them. A single incident can amount to harassment if it is sufficiently serious.