The Southern Education and Library Board, recognising that
its staff is its most valuable and valued resource, is committed
to prohibiting harassment in the workplace. The Board acknowledges
that harassment can adversely affect an officer's confidence
and job performance and that it creates an intimidating and
uncomfortable working environment.
have the right not to be harassed and should not feel or be
made to feel guilty or embarrassed about exercising that right.
The Southern Education and Library Board seeks to promote
an harmonious working environment for all its officers. Any
behaviour on the part of an officer or group of officers which
may harass, bully, threaten, humiliate, intimidate or give
offence to another officer or group of officers is unacceptable
and may incur disciplinary action.
The Board is committed to ensuring harassment does not occur
in the workplace and undertakes to investigate all complaints
of harassment quickly and sensitively to ensure that such
behaviour is neither accepted nor condoned and that proper
steps are taken to prevent further occurrences. Any victimisation
of complainants will not be tolerated by the Board.
PURPOSE OF THE CODE OF PRACTICE
The purpose of this document is to:
remind officers of the need for a continuing spirit of cooperation,
common sense and goodwill towards their colleagues;
alert officers to what constitutes harassment in the workplace;
emphasise that harassment will not be tolerated and will be
dealt with promptly and fairly;
raise awareness of the support which is available;
establish procedures to be followed if harassment occurs;
ensure that complaints are handled speedily and confidentially.
WHAT IS HARASSMENT?
Harassment can be defined as improper, offensive and humiliating
behaviour, practices or conduct which are unwanted by the
recipient, cause personal offence or injury, create an intimidating
and stressful work environment and which may threaten a person's
job security or promotion prospects.
It is not the intention of the perpetrator but the deed itself
and the impact on the recipient which determine what constitutes
FORMS OF HARASSMENT
Harassment may take many forms. It can range from extreme
forms such as violence and bullying, to less obvious actions
like ignoring someone at work. Whatever the form of harassment,
it will be unwanted behaviour, which is unwelcome and unpleasant.
Forms of harassment may include:
physical contact ranging from touching to serious assault;
verbal and written harassment through jokes, offensive language,
gossip and slander, sectarian songs, letters etc;
visual display of posters, graffiti, obscene gestures, flags,
bunting and emblems etc. Only the authorised display of flags
and emblems, which are in line with the spirit and purpose
of the Joint Declaration of Protection will be permitted;
isolation or non-cooperation at work, exclusion from social
coercion ranging from pressure for sexual favours to pressure
to participate in political/religious groups;
intrusion by pestering, spying, stalking etc;
unfair and excessive criticism, publicly insulting the victim,
ignoring their point of view and constantly changing or setting
unrealistic work targets.
Employers and employees must be alert to the various forms
Although harassment may involve an overt use of power, coercion
or violence, it can also appear in far more subtle guises.
In some cases it can be unintentional on the perpetrator's
Employees can be harassed by colleagues or subordinates as
well as by managers and supervisors. Customers, clients and
contractors may be involved either as perpetrators or recipients,
and witnesses can sometimes be affected as adversely as those
GROUNDS OF HARASSMENT
Harassment may be on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender,
marital status, domestic responsibilities, sexual orientation,
employment status, perceived religious affiliation, political
opinion, membership or non membership of a trade union, disability,
age, willingness to challenge harassment or real or suspected
infection by disease.
list is not definitive; there may be other grounds of harassment.
Some forms of harassment may be unlawful and lead to proceedings
The Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976.
The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1989.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
The Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.
The Protection from Harassment (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.
Extreme forms of harassment, may also constitute offences
under criminal law
ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANAGERS
Managers, as do all officers, have a responsibility to ensure
that their behaviour is at all times beyond question.
Managers have an additional responsibility to ensure that
their staff do not harass others. Any indication of this type
of behaviour in officers must be dealt with immediately.
Managers must also ensure that offensive material of a sexual,
racial or religious/political nature is not displayed or circulated.
ensure that any complaint of harassment is treated seriously
ensure that in the case of sexual harassment, where possible
a member of staff of the same sex as the complainant is available
to listen to the complaint;
consult the Human Resources Section immediately for advice
on handling the complaint.
Counselling will be made available to both the complainant
and the alleged harasser.
PROCEDURE FOR DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS
can be dealt with either informally or formally.
Making a complaint of harassment is likely to be a difficult
or distressing experience for the officer concerned and in
turn for the officer against whom the allegation is made.
It is vital therefore, that all such cases are accorded the
highest level of confidentiality. Any complaint of this nature
should be raised as soon as possible following an act of alleged
harassment so that the matter can be dealt with promptly and
An officer who feels that he/she is subject to unacceptable
behaviour may wish to try to deal with the situation informally
by making it clear to the offender that the behaviour is unacceptable
and must stop. In this approach he or she may wish to seek
the confidential advice or support of a colleague, Line Manager,
the Equal Opportunities Officer, or a Trade Union representative
who will attempt to help resolve the problem without resort
to formal procedures.
It is recognised that there may be situations where it is
not easy or practical to tell the harasser that the behaviour
is unacceptable, and/or that the nature of the harassment
requires that a formal procedure be adopted. It is not necessary
to have gone through the informal procedure before making
a formal complaint.
An officer wishing to make a formal complaint should raise
the matter with:
the Line Manager, Principal or Vice Principal; and/or
a Senior Officer in the Human Resources Section; and/or
the Equal Opportunities Officer; and/or
a Trade Union representative.
The Equal Opportunities Officer must be advised as soon as
a formal complaint is made.
Complaints will be investigated as appropriate by the Head
of Section or Department, or in the case of a school, the
Principal or Vice Principal, together with an officer from
the Human Resources Section. Those carrying out the investigation
must not be connected with the allegation in any way.
An officer involved in investigating a complaint should not
be a member of any subsequent disciplinary panel.
Those officers responsible for investigating a complaint will
do so discretely and sensitively and will:-
Ask the complainant for details of the complaint and make
it clear that these will be given to the alleged offender(s).
it is preferable that a complaint should be made in writing
this will not preclude the investigation of a complaint made
Give the alleged offender(s) details of the complaint and
ask for a response within 10 working days.
Both parties to a complaint may seek the help and assistance
of a work colleague or Trade Union representative.
Those officers responsible for investigating the complaint
will prepare a written report within 10 working days from
the final date on which the response from the alleged offender(s)
was due. This report will be made available to both parties
to the complaint.
If the investigation establishes that there is a case to answer
action will be initiated in accordance with the appropriate
Disciplinary Procedures. In the event of a complaint being
substantiated sanctions contained in the Disciplinary Procedures
will be applied. Copies of the Disciplinary Procedures are
available from the Human Resources Section.
Care should be taken to ensure that the career and reputation
of both parties are not unjustly affected. If the complaint
is upheld, any subsequent action must not be detrimental to
the complainant. Similarly if the complaint is deemed to have
been unfounded the alleged offender should not suffer.
AFTER THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETE
Consideration of Transfer
Redeployment if Disciplinary Action is taken.
a complaint has been upheld the complainant may wish to avoid
any further contact with the harasser. Should the harasser
remain in employment with the Board and where it is agreed
that further contact between the individuals concerned would
be unacceptable, every effort will be made to facilitate this
wish. Consideration should be given to relocating the harasser
in the first instance and where transfer of the complainant
occurs it should not lead to any disadvantage to him/her.
Redeployment where Disciplinary Action has not been taken.
such cases consideration may still be given, where practicable,
to the voluntary transfer of one of the employees concerned.
All complaints of harassment will be monitored to ensure that
they are effectively resolved and that no victimisation or
retaliation occurs. This action will be taken even where a
complaint has not been upheld.
Nothing in this document should be construed as seeking to
remove any person's legal rights. Statutory bodies exist to
advise and assist individuals. It should be noted that time
limits exist within which a complaint must be lodged.
This Code of Practice will be kept under review.