Personal Relationships Policy

This policy sets out the University’s expectations and requirements regarding close personal relationships between members of the University community. It is designed to safeguard professional relationships and ensure that all in the University community are confident that relationships will be conducted with integrity. Additionally it supports our commitment to create an environment within which the University is able to exercise its duty of care to all staff and students.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the relevant Privacy Notice.

Index:

Appendices:


Date Effective: Session 2018-19
Approved by: EDSC, HRC, SSDC, Court - 2018
Next Review: 1 Year

1. Principles

1.1     The University has a duty of care to protect students and staff from inappropriate behaviour (see Appendix B) which may include violence, abuse of power and trust, controlling/coercive and predatory behaviour, and sexual harassment.

1.2     The University believes that the professional relationship of trust and confidence that exists between a student and a member of staff is a central and essential part of a student’s educational development and pastoral care.

1.3     Staff are required to disclose any type of close personal relationship with a student, or any type of personal relationship with another member of staff which could be perceived as presenting a conflict of interest to the University (see Section 5.1).  This will allow appropriate management of the situation and to avoid any actual or potential conflict of interest.

1.4     The University believes members of the university community have an obligation to act with professionalism, integrity and respect towards one another in all relationships. This includes staff/student social events which link to University business.

1.5     Those who work for the University must not abuse their position in any way, including by making any form of sexual advance towards students, pressurising students into intimate relationships, or through any form of sexual harassment, coercive/controlling or predatory behaviour (see Appendix B for further details). 

1.6     All forms of non-consensual relationship are prohibited and may be subject to criminal investigation.

1.7     The University recognises the inherent imbalance of power between many staff and students, and therefore:

1.7.1  Intimate relationships between staff and students under the age of 18 are prohibited[1];

1.7.2  Where students are over the age of 18, intimate relationships between staff and students are strongly discouraged in cases where there is a professional connection or proximity between the member of staff and the student; for example where the member of staff teaches or supervises in the same School or RI as the student.  It is recognised that in some cases, there is little, or no, power imbalance between a member of staff and student, and in such cases the University would not wish to prevent relationships.  This may apply where individuals work and study in different Colleges, or to staff in early career roles.



[1] Under the Sexual Offences Act 2009, it is potentially a criminal offence for any member of staff to have a sexual relationship with a student under the age of 18.

2. Scope

2.1     This policy covers close personal relationships which can include:

    • Intimate relationships - including all sexual or romantic contact, whether in person and/or online or via means of other electronic or written communication, one-off or longer-term.
    • Close friendships – this covers personal relationships which extend beyond usual work, study or extracurricular/leisure activities through which individuals may be acquainted.  It therefore involves close friendships where individuals are well-acquainted, and engage frequently in activities together which are unrelated to work or study.  It does not cover work-related group activity such as Friday-night socialising with colleagues.
    • Family relationships – including partners, spouses and children.

2.2     ‘Member of staff’ refers to any individual either employed or engaged by the University to carry out work for the University. It includes Undergraduate and Postgraduate students who work as employees, such as Graduate Teaching Assistants, Tutors and Demonstrators.

2.3     Student refers to any individual studying on any course of study at the University, including:

    • Students who have accepted an offer of a place at University who have arrived on campus to start their programme and have not yet completed the formal registration process;
    • Student officials in elected positions;
    • Students on short courses;
    • Students studying for an award of the University who spend any time off campus (such as work placement, year abroad, or summer school)[2].
    • Students who are registered as visiting postgraduate researchers.


[2] This policy only covers staff and students working at the University of Glasgow, and not at other organisations.

3. Prohibited Behaviour

Inappropriate, coercive or predatory behaviour of a sexual nature (see Appendix A) is prohibited, and may be subject to criminal investigations.

3.1     For staff, such behaviour towards any other member of the University constitutes serious or gross misconduct and will be subject to Disciplinary Procedure, the consequence of which can include dismissal from the University. This includes but is not limited to promising or alluding to rewards in return for sexual favours, or suggesting or threatening withdrawal of teaching or other forms of academic support if sexual access is not granted.

3.2     Any student who exerts sexual pressure over another student or a member of staff, or who behaves in a coercive, harassing or predatory manner towards another member of the University, will be subject to the University’s Code of Student Conduct, the consequences of which can include expulsion from the University. 

3.3     Reporting mechanisms are:

3.3.1  Staff who witness or experience any inappropriate, coercive or predatory behaviour should report concerns to their Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service. Concerns about student behaviour may also be reported directly to the Senate Office (see Section 6 below).

3.3.2  Students who witness or experience any inappropriate, coercive or predatory behaviour are encouraged to report it to another member of staff (such as their Programme Leader, Adviser of Studies, Postgraduate Convenor, Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service). Concerns about student behaviour may also be reported directly to the Senate Office (see section 6 below).

3.3.3  Staff and students may report inappropriate behaviour at local level if they prefer.  However, staff and students are also free to take their concerns directly to the Senate Office or Human Resources, or to submit a report to complaints@glasgow.ac.uk. Advice is also available from the University’s Respect Advisers.

3.3.4  All reports made under Section 3.3 above will be treated in confidence.

4. Staff and Students - Personal Relationships

4.1     All close personal relationships (intimate, close friendship or family) must be disclosed by the member of staff involved.  Staff must advise their Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service, as appropriate. Students who are working at the University in non-sensitive roles, where power imbalances do not exist, are not required to disclose relationships with other students under this policy. Such roles include (but are not limited to) roles such as Hospitality workers, student ambassadors and University internships.

4.2     Failure by a member of staff to declare a personal relationship with a student may result in disciplinary action being taken. However, the University recognises that not all relationships, particularly if they are intimate will be reported. It is important that should someone subsequently experience harassment and/or bullying that they do not feel impeded in reporting simply because a previous relationship has not been declared. Therefore, staff should not avoid reporting bullying or harassment for fear of disciplinary action being taken for non-disclosure of a close personal relationship.

4.3     Students are encouraged to declare involvement in a relationship with a staff member to another member of staff in the University as soon as possible whether this is at any point during the relationship or after a relationship has ended.  Students may approach any member of staff with this information (for example, their Programme Leader, Adviser of Studies, Director of Research Institute or Head of School). The above reporting routes allow students and staff to report at local level which they may prefer; however further advice on appropriate steps will be provided by the Senate Office, or Human Resources. 

4.4     Where a disclosure of a close personal relationship is made, the Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service (or their line managers if involving them), or HR Director (for Senior Management Group members), will ensure measures are put in place to prevent actual or potential conflicts of interest, while dealing with the matter in a manner that aims to protect the dignity and privacy of all parties.  The following will apply:

    • The member of staff will have no involvement in the student’s assessment (including Annual Progress Monitoring for PGR students);
    • The member of staff will not take any direct individual responsibility for academic, administrative and/or pastoral or other support responsibilities for the student;
    • Where the relationship is between a supervisor and their PGR student, the supervisor should be removed from the supervisory team wherever possible.  Alternatively supervisory responsibilities should be organised to ensure that the member of staff is not the lead supervisor.  If appropriate, appointing an additional member of the supervisory team should be considered.  Where expertise is not available within the University, an external should be considered.
    • A point of contact will be identified for the member of staff and student respectively, for example an HR Adviser and the Chief Adviser of Studies respectively.
    • The member of staff and the student will be expected to comply with any reasonable decision or action.

4.5     If a member of the University becomes aware of, a close personal relationship between a member of staff and a student and is uncertain about what action to take, advice should be sought from their College/US HR team/Head of School/Service or Director of Research Institute. If a member of staff becomes aware of an intimate relationship between a member of staff and a student, and has concerns that this relationship might involve coercion, predatory behaviour or constitute an abuse of power, they should report their concerns to the Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service who will liaise with HR to determine whether to initiate an independent investigation.

4.6     The person to whom the relationship is disclosed will report it to the Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service where details will be recorded, and appropriate action taken. This will be shared with the involved parties and held securely on file compliant with data protection requirements. Individuals will have the right for details to be changed, should circumstances alter. A Privacy Notice and appropriate security measure are in place to ensure the data is restricted/limited to authorised personnel only.

5. Personal Relationships between Members of Staff - where a conflict of interest exists

The purpose of this part of the policy is to ensure that the University is able to exercise its duty of care to all staff in their relationships at work, to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure appropriate transparency of management processes. The University only requires relationships to be declared between staff where there is a potential conflict of interest.

5.1     A conflict of interest between staff, and in terms of this policy, would include:

    • line manager/supervisory role;
    • recruiting a prospective staff member;
    • working in the same team (this could be at any level in the University, including interdisciplinary teams);
    • working on joint projects/partnerships between Schools/RIs/Services or;
    • being involved in decision making in relation to the other person (i.e. Selection/PDR/Promotion/Funding application).

5.2     Close personal relationships between members of staff who have a supervisory or line management connection present a potential conflict of interest. Close personal relationships between members of staff where there is not a management connection, but where the nature of the roles undertaken results in close working relationships, may also present a conflict of interest and/or operational challenge.

5.3     All close personal relationships as defined in Section 1.1 above (intimate, close friendship or family), which create a conflict of interest, must be disclosed by the staff involved by reporting to their Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service, or other relevant senior manager in the University structure.

5.4     Where a disclosure of a close personal relationship is made, the line manager(s) will consider, in consultation with the staff, ways in which any potential conflict of interest might be removed. For example this might include the option to move one individual to another work team or location or removing an individual from inappropriate decision making process. The line manager(s) will also talk to the staff involved about other/new colleagues who may need to be informed to guard against any perception of impropriety relating to the relationship. In responding to a declaration of a relationship between staff, care will be taken to avoid any potential impact on the career prospects of the individuals concerned.  All reports of relationships will be recorded along with any agreed actions.

5.5     Failure to declare a personal relationship which creates a conflict of interest may result in disciplinary action.  However, such disciplinary action would not be taken against a member of staff who also experienced harassment or bullying by someone with whom they had a previous or ongoing close personal relationship.  Therefore, staff should not avoid reporting bullying or harassment for fear of disciplinary action being taken for non-disclosure of a close personal relationship.

5.6     Intimate relationships between members of staff can also give rise to situations where there is coercive or predatory behaviour. If intimate relationships arise between colleagues, and any person has concerns about any predatory or coercive element to such a relationship, they are encouraged to report or disclose this to their Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service, or other relevant senior manager, who is obliged to ensure that such reports are recorded. An investigation may be undertaken in accordance with the University’s Disciplinary Procedure, as outlined in Section 3 above.

6. Student - Student Relationships

The University does not seek to regulate relationships between students. However, any student who exerts sexual pressure over another student, or who behaves in a coercive, harassing or predatory manner towards another student, will be subject to the University’s Code of Student Conduct, the consequences of which can include expulsion from the University. Concerns about the nature of any relationship between students should be reported to the Senate Office (senate-student-conduct@glasgow.ac.uk). These shall be treated confidentially. If students prefer, they may raise such issues at local level in the first instance (e.g. with their Programme Leader, Adviser of Studies, Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service).  All such reports will be directed to the Senate Office to determine whether any action will be required under the Code of Student Conduct.

7. Gifts

7.1     The exchange of gifts from staff to students is strongly discouraged. If a staff member wants to give gifts to students, these should be consistent (i.e. all students should be treated in the same way), of modest value and appropriate. Where gifts given to student are of high value, or associated with a pattern of behaviour towards a particular student, or group of students, this may be subject to Disciplinary Procedure.

7.2     If a student gives a gift to a member of staff, the staff member should demonstrate sound professional judgement when deciding to accept the gift. If the gift is inappropriate or of significant value then they should not accept the gift, and/or suggest an appropriate form of showing appreciation.

7.3     If a student or staff member is concerned about a gift offered to them, they can seek guidance from their Programme Leader, Adviser of Studies, and Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service.

8. Complaints in relation to this policy

If a member of staff or student is unhappy with the way the University has responded to a disclosure of a relationship – prohibited, or otherwise:

  • A student may raise a complaint about a staff member with the Director of Research Institute or Head of School/Service or via the complaints process (contact complaints@glasgow.ac.uk).
  • A staff member may raise the matter with a senior manager and/or Human Resources or initiate the Grievance Procedure.