University Calendar 2010/11
Section IV : Dignity at Work and Study Policy

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1. Policy Statement
  1.1 The University of Southampton is committed to supporting, developing and promoting equality and diversity in all of its practices and activities. The University aims to establish an inclusive culture, free from discrimination and based upon the values of dignity, courtesy and respect. The University recognises the right of every person to be treated in accordance with these values.
  1.2 The failure of University staff and students to behave with dignity, courtesy and respect towards others can harm individuals and impair the functioning and reputation of the University. In particular, harassment, bullying and victimisation can cause: fear, stress, anxiety, and impose strains on work, personal and family life. They can lead to illness, accidents, absenteeism, poor performance, an apparent lack of commitment, staff resignation or student withdrawal from the University. Harassment, bullying and victimisation are unacceptable forms of behaviour which will not be tolerated.
  1.3 Any allegation of harassment, bullying or victimisation will be treated seriously, regardless of the seniority of those involved, and anyone found to have behaved unacceptably may be the subject of disciplinary action up to and including dismissal or expulsion.
  1.4 Fair criticism of staff or student performance or conduct will not be considered to be bullying or harassment provided that those involved are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.
  1.5 The University is committed to taking action to resolve disputes and conflict early on wherever possible, and work in partnership with key parties across the university, including the recognised Trade Unions, to develop positive approaches to conflict and dispute resolution.
  1.6 It is recognised that some issues affecting dignity at work and study can arise out of miscommunication, misunderstandings and relationship difficulties. In light of this, wherever someone raises an issue alleging that their dignity at work or study has been affected, they will be offered the opportunity to have a facilitated meeting with the person whose conduct they are unhappy with. The facilitation will be undertaken by a member of the University’s mediation service. This opportunity is not compulsory and anyone who chooses to attend a mediation session will not be prevented from recourse to the university’s other procedures. (More details of the University’s mediation service can be found in Section 6).
2. Objectives of the Policy
  The aims of this policy and accompanying guidance are to:
  • promote a positive University environment in which people are treated fairly and with respect;

  • encourage all university staff and students to play a role in creating and maintaining an environment in which harassment, bullying and victimisation are understood to be unacceptable forms of behaviour;

  • provide a framework of support for University staff and students who feel that they have been the subject of harassment, bullying or victimisation;

  • ensure that allegations of harassment, bullying or victimisation are addressed fairly, with respect for the rights and dignity of all those involved; and

  • identify the appropriate formal processes by which complaints can be raised.
3. Application of the Policy
  3.1 This Policy applies to the conduct of the University of Southampton staff and students in the context of their University work or study, or which otherwise affects the working, learning or social environment of the University. This can include the way in which staff and students behave towards colleagues and peers outside University premises on University-related social occasions. It also can also cover conduct towards people who are not members of the University (such as applicants, contractors, patients, and other members of the public who visit University sites or use University services).
  3.2 The University will draw this policy to the attention of consultants and contractors through its procurement processes.
  3.3 This Policy should be read in conjunction with other University of Southampton Policies and procedures such as the:

  • Equality and Diversity Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Mental Health Policy
  • Consensual Relationship Guidelines
  • Confidentiality Policy
  • Race Equality Policy
  • Staff Disciplinary Procedures
  • Staff Grievance Procedures
  • Student Disciplinary Code
  • Student Complaints Policy/Procedure
Useful supporting guidance: Conducting Investigations (web page to be inserted)
  3.4 Staff and students who are required to undertake work placements or secondments outside the University as part of their employment or study, and those holding honorary contracts to work outside the University, should read this policy in conjunction with the Dignity at Work, Harassment or Bullying policies of the employer with which they are placed. If a complaint of harassment is made in relation to the conduct of a member of staff or student whilst placed outside the university, it is likely that this will be dealt with under the University’s procedures (subject to the terms of any secondment or other agreement).
  3.5 If a member of staff or student suffers harassment, bullying or other unacceptable treatment while working outside the University, for example during a work placement, secondment or consultancy, this should be brought to the attention of the University line manager or tutor as well as to the supervising manager at the external organisation. Staff and students will have access to the same support arrangements as if the treatment had occurred on University premises, such as counselling, harassment contacts, mentoring and advice from the Diversity Office. In this case, it is likely that the policies and procedures of the external organisation will apply but the University will support its staff and students in whatever way is considered appropriate.
4. Definitions of Harassment, Bullying and Victimisation
  4.1 Harassment
Harassment encompasses many different types of physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct. It can occur through a single explicit incident or may be sporadic or ongoing. The defining features are that the conduct:
  • is unwanted and unwelcome;

  • subjects a person or group to intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, offence or loss of privacy, or creates an environment which is hostile, intimidating or offensive to that person or group; and

  • is unwarranted by the working, study or social relationship between those involved and would be regarded as such by any similarly situated reasonable person.
Harassment which is related to a person’s sex, pregnancy, gender identity, race, colour, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or age, can constitute unlawful discrimination for which staff and students can be held personally liable.

Examples of harassment:
  • Violence or threat of violence.
  • Verbal abuse, including threats, derogatory name calling, insults, ridicule or belittling of an individual.
  • Using humour to put another person or group of people down, for example, telling jokes that are sexist, racist or about an individual’s sexual orientation or religion.
  • Spreading malicious lies or making insulting comments.
  • Unwanted physical contact, sexual advances or innuendo.
  • Display or circulation of abusive or offensive materials, for example by email or on the internet, or on a whiteboard.
  • Sending offensive text messages.
  • Ostracism or exclusion from normal conversation in the work or study environment, or from social events.
  • Intrusion by pestering, spying or stalking.
  • Coercion, such as pressure to subscribe to a particular political or religious belief.
  4.2 Bullying
Bullying is abuse of personal power or a position of authority, either in aggressive or more subtle ways, which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable and undermines their self-confidence. Bullying behaviour can occur in many different types of relationship. It is possible, for example, for a junior colleague to bully a person in a senior role, for a student to bully a member of staff, or a woman to bully a man.

Examples of bullying:
  • Psychological intimidation, humiliation, excessive and/or unreasonable criticism or fault-finding of any colleague or peer.
  • Preventing an individual progressing by intentionally blocking promotion or training opportunities, unjustifiably restricting choice of study options or access to tuition;

  • Unfair allocation of work and responsibilities or setting unreasonable goals or targets in work or study;

  • Asserting a position of intellectual superiority in an aggressive, abusive or offensive manner whether orally or in writing, publicly or in private.
  4.3 Victimisation
Victimisation occurs when a person is treated less favourably because they have made a complaint of discrimination (which may be a complaint of harassment or bullying), or have helped another person to make or bring a complaint. Victimisation can constitute unlawful discrimination, and result in disciplinary action, regardless of the outcome of the original complaint.
  4.4 It is recognised that any of the examples in section 4 may be demonstrated by one person, or by more than one person in a concerted effort to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for another individual (‘mobbing’).
5. Responsibilities
  5.1 Ultimate responsibility for this policy rests with University Council, however, Council will require the Vice-Chancellor to ensure that the policy is applied effectively.
  5.2 The Vice-Chancellor will devolve responsibility for the application of this policy, and any supporting guidance, to Pro Vice Chancellors, Deans, Heads of Academic Units/Professional Services.
  5.3 It is the responsibility of all persons in authority (which includes Deans, Heads of Academic Units/Professional Services, managers, supervisors and all staff working directly with students or members of the public) to:
  • ensure that this Policy is implemented effectively and effort is made to make sure that all staff and students are aware of this policy;

  • be alert to potential problems and act promptly without waiting for a complaint to be made to the extent that this is possible (by challenging unacceptable behaviour which is directly observed and promoting an inclusive culture);

  • treat informal and formal complaints seriously, with sensitivity to the feelings and perceptions of all those involved, and in a timely fashion;

  • deal with any issues raised fairly and in line with duties of care to staff and students; and

  • take steps to ensure that staff and students who bring complaints, or support others to do so, are not treated less favourably than others because of this.
  5.4 It is the responsibility of all University staff and students to:
  • behave in accordance with this policy;

  • take seriously requests to cease or amend behaviour and respond courteously to them;

  • not participate in, encourage or condone the harassment, bullying or victimisation of others; and

  • promote an inclusive culture in which colleagues or peers are not subjected to harassment, bullying or victimisation by challenging these forms of behaviour or reporting situations in which they occur to the line manager or supervisor of the person involved, a tutor, or a Harassment Contact.
6. Informal and formal procedures to address unacceptable behaviour
  Informal Procedures
  6.1 The University recognises that it can be difficult to raise a complaint of harassment, bullying or victimisation whether on a formal or informal basis. The University seeks to ensure that people who feel that they have been the subject of harassment, bullying or victimisation are able to raise their concerns, and to have them addressed appropriately.
  6.2 Before any formal procedure is invoked alternative resolution techniques such as mediation should be considered and offered if considered appropriate. HR Client Partners/ advisors can provide further guidance and support on this.
  6.3 To facilitate the resolution of conflict in the work/study place the University has established an internal mediation scheme. Members of staff have been trained in workplace mediation skills, so they can act as independent facilitators who can assist parties who are in dispute to resolve their differences. Whilst mediation may not be suitable for every complaint of bullying or harassment, it is always available as an opportunity for anyone who would prefer to find a way of resolving a conflict situation without resorting to one of the University’s formal procedures. The internal mediation service can be accessed by contacting legal services or the diversity office. In cases where internal mediation is not appropriate, for example where the particular case is very complex or the participants specifically request an external mediator, HR will make arrangements (with the consent of the Head of Academic Unit or Professional Service) with external providers to bring in a mediator.
  6.4 An internal Harassment Contact Scheme is also in place to provide advice and support University staff or students who feel that they have been the subject of harassment, bullying or victimisation.
  6.5 People can access information on Harassment Contacts from, (under Supporting You of the Human Resources page) or by contacting the Diversity Team.
  6.6 Harassment Contacts can help staff and students who feel upset or offended by the behaviour of another person to:
  • determine whether they have been harassed, bullied or victimised;

  • decide how best to challenge or approach the person believed to be behaving unacceptably (for example, in person alone or with a Harassment Contact, or in writing);

  • understand the options for tackling situations informally and formally; and

  • understand which of the University’s formal procedures is relevant to the specific situation. (These are also listed at Appendix A to this policy.) If the Harassment Contacts have a problem in identifying the right procedure, the University’s Diversity Manager should be contacted for advice.
  6.7 Harassment Contacts can help staff and students whose behaviour is challenged as unacceptable by another person by:
  • discussing the circumstances in which the person’s behaviour, manner or attitude was challenged as being unacceptable to another person or group;

  • explaining the complaints process and potential outcomes of informal and formal procedures; and

  • providing details of other sources of advice, support and representation.
  6.8 Throughout any informal or formal process the Harassment Contact will act as an advisor and supporter to the person who has sought their advice, and will not take action independently of that person’s wishes or outside the scope of their defined role. The Harassment Contact will not usually act as a representative, but may for example accompany the person to a grievance hearing or a student complaint meeting for support.
  6.9 Harassment Contacts will maintain brief records of the details of the cases they have dealt with and the advice that they have provided. These details will be sent to the Diversity Office who will maintain an overview of the work the Harassment Contacts are undertaking. This information will be held in complete confidence.
  6.10 There is no obligation on anyone involved in a situation concerning harassment, bullying or victimisation to seek the advice of a Harassment Contact before trying to resolve the situation, or making a complaint or bringing a grievance.
  6.11 Trying to resolve a situation informally will not preclude any person from bringing a formal complaint.
  Informal resolutions and links with formal procedures
  6.12 Complaints made by University staff or students may be addressed informally through the initial stages of the Staff Discipline and Grievance Procedures, Student Complaints Procedure and Student Disciplinary Regulations. Appendix A below sets out the full list of which policy should be used in any given situation.
  6.13 Within the informal stages of these policies and procedures, Heads of Academic Unit/Service, or their nominees, have discretion as to the best way to address a complaint. They may use, but are not required to use or limited to, the following informal means:
  • Speaking separately to those people involved in the situation.

  • Holding an informal meeting between the person who has made a complaint and the person whose behaviour is the subject of complaint and any others who might help to resolve the situation (such as a supervisor, tutor or Harassment contact).

  • Referring relevant parties to a mediation or equivalent process if this is an appropriate way of trying to resolve the situation and agreement has been given by the parties involved.

  • Referring relevant parties to the support available either internal or external to the University, which could include the Occupational Health Service and Counselling Service.
  Formal Procedures
  6.14 All formal complaints relating to harassment, bullying or victimisation should be made through existing grievance, complaint and disciplinary procedures, a full table of which is provided at Appendix A below.
  6.15 The rules of the formal procedures will apply in full. Heads of Academic Unit/Service, or their nominees, have discretion as to whether informal action may still be used to try to resolve the situation at this stage.
  6.16 If a counter allegation is made during an investigation, this will be addressed as part of the on going investigation and dealt within the guidelines of the procedure being followed.
  6.17 Disciplinary action can be taken against individuals who are found to have brought complaints based on knowingly false information or with malicious intent. Such action will not be taken against anyone who brings a complaint in good faith, even if that complaint is not upheld.
  6.18 Sometimes it is necessary to separate those involved in complaints procedures during the period of investigation. In such circumstances, it is possible that one of the parties to a complaint will be transferred, redeployed, asked to work from a different location, or suspended from duty or study. These steps are taken to protect the interests of both parties and do not constitute disciplinary action. The decision as to which individual will be moved in order to effect the separation will be based on objective criteria such as travel arrangements, work/life balance issues, needs of the services performed by staff, and effect on studies for students. Paid staff will remain on full pay for the duration of an investigation.
  6.19 Some forms of harassment can constitute criminal offences or grounds for civil proceedings. Nothing in this policy or related procedures will prevent staff or students from exercising their rights to take legal action.
  6.20 Once an investigation has been initiated all those involved should seek to ensure that confidentiality is maintained, in this way ensuring the procedure is fair to both the complainer and the complainant.

Breaches of confidentiality may result in disciplinary action being taken. The need to observe an appropriate level of confidentiality will not prevent anyone involved in the procedure from seeking the advice of a Harassment Contact, Human Resources, Trade Union or Students’ Union representative or solicitor.

However there will be extreme occasions when the University will need to disclose information where necessary for the discharge of its Duty of Care or as required by law.
7. Disciplinary Action
  7.1 A complaint of harassment, bullying or victimisation, may result in disciplinary action being taken against the staff member(s) or student(s), against whom allegations have been made. Disciplinary procedures will not be invoked until the complaint has been investigated, in accordance with either the University’s grievance or disciplinary procedures. Any action taken will take place through the existing disciplinary procedures which are listed at Appendix A.
  7.2 Serious cases of harassment, bullying or victimisation perpetrated by staff will be treated as gross misconduct and may lead to staff dismissal through the disciplinary hearing process. Less serious incidents may result in a written or oral warning, or in informal action (such as requiring a member of staff to attend a relevant training session).
  7.3 Serious cases of harassment, bullying or victimisation perpetrated by students will be treated as a serious breach of the Regulations Governing Student Discipline, and may lead to permanent exclusion from the University. Less serious incidents may result in a reprimand, suspension, or other penalties detailed within the Regulations Governing Student Discipline.
  7.4 In extreme circumstances, incidents of harassment or bullying behaviour may breach criminal law and the University will report the matter to the police. In such situations, Human Resources (in relation to staff) or Student Services (in relation to students) should always be contacted for advice.
8. Training and Awareness
  8.1 All new University staff will be made aware of this policy at induction and through the ‘information for new staff’ website. New students will be made aware of this policy through the Student Handbook, Student Services website, Student Resources Network and School Information, SUAIC Note book/SUSU website diaries.
  8.2 The policy will be disseminated to current staff via Heads of Professional Services and each School, and the Student’s Union and through the development of a publicity campaign to promote dignity at work and study. Details of this policy and campaign will also be published on the University website.
  8.3 Issues relating to dignity at work and study will be included within University Equality and Diversity training. A specific session on dignity at work and study will be included within the staff development programme. Particularly for those staff who work in the area of student complaints, and student discipline for students and complaints and grievances for staff.
  8.4 Training, support, advice and guidance on addressing harassment, bullying and victimisation will be made available to managers and supervisors. Those undertaking Harassment investigations are supported by HR client partners and Advisors.
9. Monitoring
  9.1 The Harassment Contacts will log each enquiry, and where possible log diversity data. However, we are aware that this may not be possible in many instances where people are seeking advice on sensitive issues.
  9.2 Any personal monitoring data provided in this way will be confidential to the Harassment Contact and the Diversity Team. Any analysis of data will be will be confidential and provided on an aggregated basis in order to monitor trends over time.
  9.3 People seeking advice who do not wish to provide part or any of the monitoring data will not receive any less support from the University than those who do.
10. Review
  The Diversity Manager has responsibility for ensuring the maintenance, regular review and updating of this policy in consultation with representatives from across the university, including the student and recognised staff unions, Student Services, Heads of Academic Units and Services, Equalities Implementation Group, Health, Safety and Occupational Health, and relevant committees such as the Academic Quality and Standards Committee and Human Resources Committee.

Specifically the University’s Diversity Champion will hold two meetings a year with key stakeholders to discuss ongoing issues regarding the implementation of the Dignity at Work and Study Policy.
11. Further Advice
  11.1 University staff who have questions on the application of this Policy should raise them with their manager or supervisor, HR client partners/Advisors, Head of Academic Unity, a Harassment Contact or the Diversity Manager.
  11.2 University students who have any questions on the application of this Policy should raise them with their personal tutor/Senior tutor, Head of Academic Unit, the Student’s Union Advice and Information Centre, a Harassment Contact, the Educational Quality Coordinator: Student Complaints, Appeals and Feedback or the Diversity Manager.
  11.3 Members of the public who have any questions on the application of this policy should raise them with the relevant University department listed in Appendix A, or with the Diversity Manager.
  11.4 In addition, advice may be sought at any stage from the following external organisations:
Equality and Human Rights Commission
3 More London
Riverside Tooley Street
London, SE1 2RG
Tel: 020 407 7557
Opportunity Now
137 Shepherdess Walk
London, N1 7RQ
Tel: 0870 600 2482
Citizens Advice Bureau
3 Kings Park Road
Southampton, SO15 2AT
Tel: 0238 0221 406
The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education
Telephone Helpdesk: 0118 959  9813
Students' Union Advice and Information Centre (SUAIC)
Telephone: 0238 059 2085
UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line
Tel: 01235 212286
University and College Union (UCU)
University of Southampton
47 University Road
Southampton SO17 1BJ Tel: 023 8059 2364 Email:
University of Southampton
47 University Road
Southampton SO17 1BJ
Unite the Union
University of Southampton
47 University Road
Southampton SO17 1BJ

Appendix 1 : Formal Procedures fo Making a Complaint
Appendix 2 : Procedures for use by Southampton University Staff
Appendix 3 : Procedures for use by Southampton University Students
Appendix 4 : Procedures for use by non-members of the University
Reviewed in May 2010; no changes made.

Submitted by Corporate Services
Last reviewed: 29-Jun-2010
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