Dignity at Work and Study - FAQs

Dignity at Work and Study - FAQs

1. What is harassment?

1. What is harassment?

It can be defined as improper, offensive and humiliating behaviour, practices or conduct.  Harassment can be very upsetting, humiliating and destructive affecting the confidence and self esteem of an individual. 

The perception of the recipient is very important but the test of reasonableness must also be applied, i.e. would a reasonable person in possession of the same information regard it as harassment.

2. What is bullying?

2. What is bullying?

Bullying is offensive and malicious behaviour, which undermines an individual or group through persistently negative attacks. There is typically an unpredictable and irrational abuse of power or position that can manifest itself in physical, verbal or non-verbal forms. There is usually an element of vindictiveness attached to bullying and the behaviour is calculated to undermine, patronise humiliate, intimidate or demean the recipient.

It is important to distinguish between legitimate management of performance and addressing of issues from true bullying behaviour.

3. Who experiences harassment and/or bullying?

3. Who experiences harassment and/or bullying?

It is important to understand that harassment can happen to anyone irrespective of their age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or physical or mental ability/disability. Generally, however, it should be recognized that some groups are more vulnerable to harassment and bullying than others.

4. What should I do if I feel that I am being harassed or bullied?

4. What should I do if I feel that I am being harassed or bullied?

If you feel that you are experience bullying or harassment you should follow the procedures as outlined in the Dignity at Work and Study Policy or speak to your line manager, if appropriate.

5. Is there anyone who can advise me on how to deal with harassment?

5. Is there anyone who can advise me on how to deal with harassment?

The Respect Advisers Network will be able to provide support and guidance should you wish to resolve the matter informally.  Talking to a Respect Adviser can help you work out your options for what to do next.

For students, the Students' Representative Council Advice Centre is also a part of the Respect Advisers Network and will be able to provide guidance and explain the options available to you.  They may also be prepared to assist you to resolve your concern informally by representing you in discussions with those concerned.  You could also explain the situation to a member of staff in your School/Research Institute who may be able to assist you in resolving the situation informally.

For staff, you could also talk to your Line Manager, your local HR team or if you are a member, your Trades Union representative.

6. If I contact a Respect Adviser, do I have to reveal my name?

6. If I contact a Respect Adviser, do I have to reveal my name?

You will need to let the Respect Adviser have your name but this will be treated in confidence. It may be necessary to share anonymous details with other advisers, but this will be done with your permission only.

7. If I report an incident will I lose my job?

7. If I report an incident will I lose my job?

No, the University takes all complaints seriously and anyone seeking advice, making a complaint or assisting in an investigation shall be offered support and protection against intimidation, victimisation or discrimination. Retaliation against an individual for complaining about harassment is a disciplinary offence.

8. What will happen?

8. What will happen?

Initially we will try and help to resolve the matter informally, however if this does not work we will discuss with you the possible options in terms of taking the matter forward formally.  If you decide to take this route, you will need to put details about the harassment you are experiencing in writing.  Your report will then be considered by the appropriate officer. 

You may be asked to attend a meeting with the investigating officer so that he or she can gather more information.  You can bring a friend or representative with you to the meeting.  In some cases it might be suggested that you attend a meeting along with the harasser; however this would only be suggested where it was considered to be appropriate and likely to help resolve the matter, and you would have the right to refuse to attend such a meeting.

9. What happens when an allegation is made and formal procedures are applied?

9. What happens when an allegation is made and formal procedures are applied?

Though some cases of harassment may be resolved by direct approach to the alleged harasser some cases will inevitably be incapable of resolution within the informal process. Those cases which are incapable of successful resolution within the informal process, or are too serious to consider resolution by means of the informal process will be referred to the appropriate level of line management for further investigation. Such cases will then fall within the ambit of the University's formal grievance/complaints and/or disciplinary procedures.

10. Who will investigate my complaint?

10. Who will investigate my complaint?

Formal investigations under the Grievance Procedure will be conducted by an appropriate member of staff, nominated by the Head of School / Service / Director of Research Institute, not previously involved.  

11. Will I need to continue working with the member of staff in question?

11. Will I need to continue working with the member of staff in question?

As a duty of care to all employees, a judgement shall be made as to whether involved staff should continue to work together while the matter is under investigation.  The conclusion of the investigation of your complaint should result in any unacceptable behaviour being stopped, and the most appropriate way to reach this position shall be considered on a case by case basis.  It may be that the member of staff in question was unaware of the effect of their behaviour on you and that the matter can be resolved once the matter is drawn to their attention.

12. What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the investigation of my complaint?

12. What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the investigation of my complaint?

Under the Grievance Procedure you have a right to appeal.  Refer to the Appeal section within the Grievance Procedure.

13. What if I've been accused of bullying or harassment?

13. What if I've been accused of bullying or harassment?

Refer to Guidance for employees accused of bullying or harassment document.

14. Will the member of staff know I have made a complaint about them?

14. Will the member of staff know I have made a complaint about them?

Yes, if action is to be taken under the University’s formal Complaint Procedures.  Your complaint will not be considered unless you confirm you are prepared to have your identity revealed to those who will be required to contribute to the investigation.  The reason for this is the alleged harasser must be given the right to respond, and providing details of the allegation would always open up the possibility of your identity being revealed - even if you are not named.  The same principles apply when staff Disciplinary Procedures are followed.

Every effort will be made to restrict the number of persons aware of the case, but all staff about whom you are complaining will be made aware of the complaint.

15. What will happen?

15. What will happen?

Initially we will try and help to resolve the matter informally, however if this does not work we will discuss with you the possible options in terms of taking the matter forward formally.  If you decide to take this route, you will need to put details about the harassment you are experiencing in writing.  Your report will then be considered by the appropriate officer.  You may be asked to attend a meeting with the investigating officer so that he or she can gather more information.  You can bring a friend or representative with you to the meeting.  In some cases it might be suggested that you attend a meeting along with the harasser; however this would only be suggested where it was considered to be appropriate and likely to help resolve the matter, and you would have the right to refuse to attend such a meeting.

16. Who will investigate my complaint?

16. Who will investigate my complaint?

Formal investigation of a complaint by students about a staff member under the Complaints Procedure will be conducted by the Head of the School/Research Institute/Service were the member of staff works.  If considered appropriate, the Head of School/Research Institute/Service may delegate the investigation to another colleague.  If the matter is pursued via the staff Disciplinary Procedures the Head of School/Research Institute/Service or his/her nominee will undertake the investigation, with support from Human Resources.

17. Will I be taught by the member of staff in question?

17. Will I be taught by the member of staff in question?

If you feel concerned about continuing to be taught by the member of staff you should raise this at the time when you make your complaint.  As a duty of care to all members of the University community, a judgement shall be made as to whether the member of staff should continue to teach while the matter is under investigation.   The conclusion of the investigation of your complaint should result in any unacceptable behaviour being stopped, and the most appropriate way to reach this position shall be considered on a case by case basis.  It may be that the member of staff in question was unaware of the effect of their behaviour on you and that the matter can be resolved once the matter is drawn to their attention, without any need for them to stop teaching you.

18. Will this affect the rest of my course/ the School's attitude to me/ my marks?

18. Will this affect the rest of my course/ the School's attitude to me/ my marks?

It is a basic principle of the students Complaints Procedure that a complainant will not be disadvantaged.

The University procedures aim to stop any unacceptable behaviour and therefore the affect on your ongoing studies should be limited.  If you believe your preparation for, or performance in, assessments has been affected by the harassment you have experienced you should submit details of this as mitigating circumstances in accordance with the University regulations on incomplete assessment and good cause which can be found in the Fees and General Section of the University Calendar

Please note information relating to mitigating circumstances must be submitted as soon as possible. Information submitted more than one week after the examination date or submission deadline is usually not taken into consideration. If you have reservations or concerns about submitting relevant information which may mean you miss this deadline, seek advice as soon as possible.  

Your College or School's attitude to you should not be affected by the situation.  Staff will consider your case in accordance with standard procedures so everyone is treated in the same way.   If any formal procedures are followed, details of the case will only be shared with staff on a need to know basis.

19. What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the investigation of my complaint?

19. What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the investigation of my complaint?

Under the Complaints Procedure you have a right to seek a review of a complaint investigation if you do not consider it to have been properly conducted and are dissatisfied with the outcome.  You must submit your request for a review (a Stage 2 complaint) to the University within 10 working days of receipt of the outcome of formal complaint investigation.  

20. Will the student know I have made a complaint about them?

20. Will the student know I have made a complaint about them?

Yes, if action is to be taken under the University’s Code of Practice on Unacceptable Behaviour the same applies if a referral made to a Senate Assessor under the Code of Student Conduct Your complaint will not be considered unless you confirm you are prepared to have your identity revealed to those who will be required to contribute to the investigation.  The reason for this is the alleged harasser must be given the right to respond, and providing details of the allegation would always open up the possibility of your identity being revealed - even if you are not named.  

Every effort will be made to restrict the number of persons aware of the case, but all students about whom you are complaining will be made aware of the complaint.

21. What will happen?

21. What will happen?

Initially we will try and help to resolve the matter informally, however if this does not work we will discuss with you the possible options in terms of taking the matter forward formally.  If you decide to take this route, you will need to put details about the harassment you are experiencing in writing.  Your report will then be considered by the appropriate officer.  You may be asked to attend a meeting with the investigating officer so that he or she can gather more information.  You can bring a friend or representative with you to the meeting.  In some cases it might be suggested that you attend a meeting along with the harasser; however this would only be suggested where it was considered to be appropriate and likely to help resolve the matter, and you would have the right to refuse to attend such a meeting.

22. Who will investigate my complaint?

22. Who will investigate my complaint?

If the case is referred under the Student Code of Conduct it will be referred to the Senior Senate Assessor for Student Conduct.  The Senior Senate Assessor shall investigate the case.  This usually involves an interview with the student who is alleged to have harassed you.  The interview will be conducted either by two Senate Assessors for Conduct, or the Student Conduct Committee.  In both cases, the University will establish the facts of the case and then decide on the appropriate course of action and, if appropriate, penalty.

Formal investigations under the Code of Practice on Unacceptableo Behaviour will be conducted by the relevant Head of School/Research Institute, or Chief Adviser of Studies for the student whose behaviour is in question.  If considered appropriate, the Head of School/Research Institute/Chief Adviser may delegate the investigation to another colleague. 

23. Will the student who is harassing me be thrown off their course?

23. Will the student who is harassing me be thrown off their course?

Under the Student Code of Conduct the University has the right to expel students who breach the Code.  However this is extremely rare, and would only be considered in very severe cases of ongoing misconduct, particularly if a student’s behaviour was considered to present a threat to the safety of other members of the University community.  Normally, other penalties are applied and students are made aware of the aspects of their behaviour which are considered unacceptable, and which they must stop.

24. Will my complaint affect the rest of my course/ the School's attitude to me/ my marks?

24. Will my complaint affect the rest of my course/ the School's attitude to me/ my marks?

It is a basic principle of the Student Complaints Procedure that a complainant will not be disadvantaged.

The University procedures aim to stop any unacceptable behaviour and therefore the affect on your ongoing studies should be limited.  If you believe that your preparation for, or performance in, assessments has been affected by the harassment you have experienced you should submit details of this as mitigating circumstances in accordance with the University regulations on incomplete assessment and good cause which can be found in the Fees and General Section of the University Calendar

Please note that information relating to mitigating circumstances must be submitted as soon as possible. Information submitted more than one week after the examination date or submission deadline is usually not taken into consideration. If you have reservations or concerns about submitting relevant information which may mean you miss this deadline, seek advice as soon as possible.

Your College/School/Research Institute's attitude to you should not be affected by the situation.  Staff will consider your case in accordance with standard procedures so everyone is treated in the same way.   If any formal procedures are followed, details of the case will only shared with staff on a need to know basis.

25. What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the investigation of my complaint?

25. What if I am unhappy with the outcome of the investigation of my complaint?

If your complaint against another student was considered under the student Code of Conduct or Code of Practice on Unacceptable Behaviour and you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, you would then require to pursue the matter through the University's Complaints Procedure.