Bullying and harassment
Harassment or bullying at work is very serious and can impact on your health and well-being as well as your ability to focus on your work. Schools can be complicated work environments, with pupils, parents and colleagues sometimes displaying behaviour that would not be considered acceptable elsewhere. It is important therefore that you feel able to recognise when treatment is unacceptable and are able to respond to end harassment or bullying by colleagues.
The legal picture
In all maintained schools, The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 Act requires governors to ensure that there are established and published procedures for regulating the conduct and discipline of staff, and for staff to raise a grievance complaint. The Employments Rights Act 1996 requires all employers, i.e. all schools, to have a written statement of terms of employment which includes processes for raising a grievance.
Harassment is defined by the Equalities Act as: “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”. Protected characteristics include age, disability, race, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, gender and sexual orientation.
ACAS provide non-statutory guidance for employees.
Your school will have a policy outlining the process to follow if you are facing bullying or harassment. It may be in your contract, Employees’ Handbook (e.g. a School Policies Handbook) or published on an intranet or VLE.
If you feel you are the victim of bullying or harassment it is important that you follow your school process to raise your complaint as soon as possible to make your complaint in writing.
Your complaint will then be treated either informally, and recorded in case it recurs, or formally, in which case it will be first subject to an investigation. Informal responses may include mediation, mentoring or training for you and/or the person who has been carrying out the bullying or harassment. Formal responses may result in disciplinary procedures against the person who has been harassing or bullying you. In severe cases, they may include a police investigation and potential prosecution.
If you have any concerns about bullying or harassment, edapt can advise and support you through your school’s procedures.
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