Stop bullying and harassment guide for employees

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1 Stop bullying and harassment guide for employees

2 Foreword We have recently jointly reviewed with the unions the Royal Mail Group Stop bullying & harassment policy, procedure and joint statement to make them easier to understand, highlight how to resolve issues informally and emphasise our commitment to ensuring everyone is treated with dignity and respect at all times. This booklet has been developed jointly with our unions to emphasise our commitment to eliminating inappropriate behaviour and language in the workplace. We hope you find it a useful source of information and advice. In introducing the new agreement, Ray Ellis, CWU, said: We are pleased at the strong emphasis on informal resolution where possible and appropriate and at the clear statement of the right of employees to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. The revised procedure also provides welcome confirmation that both the complainant and respondent can see documents relevant to the case before a decision is made. Brian Scott, Unite CMA officer, said: None of our members wants to come to work to operate under an intimidatory regime or be fearful in the workplace. This revised agreement is a good process and applied properly it can be effective in removing unacceptable behaviours from Royal Mail. Individuals know what is required and expected of them. Employees at all levels in the organisation can make a difference and this procedure helps them do that. The ideal position would be that the procedure is only used occasionally because there is no need for it. That should be an objective for all. Peter Walls, Head of ER/IR Ops, Mod and Transformation. said: We ve made progress in dealing with bullying and harassment in Royal Mail in recent years, but there is more to do. Bullying has no place in our business. In most cases we want to focus our attention on finding ways of dealing with incidents that do occur in an informal way that stops it in its tracks and enables people to resolve their difficulties. But in serious cases we will investigate and where appropriate we will take conduct action, which may result in dismissal. The purpose of this booklet is to: Increase your understanding of what bullying and harassment really means so that you can identify if it is happening to you or one of your colleagues Understand it is everyone s responsibility to stop bullying and harassment Make everyone aware of the Royal Mail Group standards of behaviour Provide advice on how to resolve a situation informally Provide practical guidance on what to do if a customer harasses you Provide you with different options on how to receive information on current procedures, support available and ways to make a complaint, e.g: - Independent Bullying and Harassment Helpline - Formal complaint procedure - Mediation Give you additional support and show our commitment to tackling and reducing bullying and harassment in the workplace 2 3

3 Joint Royal Mail, CWU, Unite statement What is bullying and harassment? Royal Mail Group, CWU and Unite are committed to placing equality, diversity and fairness at the heart of our values, policies and everyday practices of our employees. Royal Mail Group, CWU and Unite are committed to creating and maintaining a working environment free from bullying and harassment, where everyone treats each other with dignity and respect, so people are able to achieve their best. In general terms, bullying and harassment refers to unwanted behaviours that make someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended. It can be between two individuals or may involve groups of people and includes behaviour that employees may find offensive even if not directed at them personally. Bullying and harassment can occur in written communications, visual images, by phone, mail and social media as well as in face to face actions. Inappropriate banter will not be tolerated. Managing performance by giving feedback constructively, asking people to undertake their responsibilities or carry out another reasonable task, or taking appropriate action under the relevant employment policies is not bullying or harassment, but conversations about performance will be consistent with the general requirement that we all treat each other with dignity and respect. Behaviour which is not in accordance with these principles is unacceptable. Peter Walls Head of ER/IR Ops Mod and Transformation Royal Mail Group We will not tolerate intimidation, victimisation or unfair discrimination against any employee who makes a complaint of, or who assists in, an investigation of alleged bullying and harassment. There is an informal and a formal process for dealing with genuine concerns relating to bullying and harassment. We encourage behavioural issues to be dealt with informally where appropriate, to maintain good working relationships and resolve the issue quickly. Informal resolution can take place before a formal complaint is raised or with the agreement of the person raising the complaint at any stage of the formal procedure. When resolution cannot be achieved informally, or when this is not appropriate, the complaint should be progressed through the formal process. Complaints will be dealt with thoroughly and in confidence and all the individuals involved will be treated with dignity and respect. Where necessary appropriate disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including dismissal. Because accusing someone of bullying or harassment is a very serious matter, disciplinary action will be taken against the person making the allegation if on investigation it is found to be vexatious. All Royal Mail Group managers and Union representatives are responsible for ensuring that bullying and harassment is prevented and dealt with, whether or not it is brought formally to their attention. Brian Scott Unite / CMA Officer Ray Ellis Assistant Secretary CWU There are different levels of understanding on what bullying and harassment is and what it is not. There can be a fine line between bullying and harassment and other behaviours in the workplace. Some people still think that harassment at work is not something they need to take seriously and say things like he s too touchy or she can t take a joke What is bullying and harassment? Verbal harassment: Sexual language and sexual innuendo, lewd comments, racist comments, insults, offensive nicknames, gossip and swearing. The use of inappropriate or offensive language or topics of conversation is the source of many complaints. Non-verbal harassment: Gestures, offensive photos, whistling, staring and intimidating behaviour. This also includes inappropriate and offensive mobile telephone messages, inappropriate use of social media and graffiti. Physical harassment: Standing too close, inappropriate touching or assault. Singling out / victimisation: Unfair and selective punishment of, or discrimination against, an individual can be bullying and harassment. Harassment by exclusion: Being ignored and given the silent treatment. or he shouldn t take it too seriously. The chart below helps you to make the distinction by showing you the Royal Mail definitions of harassment and other concepts. There is also a difference between the bullying and harassment procedure and the grievance process. What isn t bullying and harassment? Friendly banter: People can and do exchange jokes, social conversation and good-humoured, playful conversation openly in the workplace, This is what we call banter. It stops being friendly banter when it goes too far (see verbal harassment ). Grievance: Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints raised by an employee in relation to their work, working conditions or relationships with colleagues that they wish to raise with Royal Mail. A grievance is not normally appropriate where a policy has a separate appeals mechanism. Performance management: Managing performance by giving feedback constructively, asking people to undertake their responsibilities or carry out another reasonable task, or taking appropriate action under the relevant employment policies is not bullying or harassment. Conversations about performance should be consistent with the general requirement that we all treat each other with dignity and respect. Behaviour which is not in accordance with these principles is unacceptable. 5

4 Royal Mail Standards We expect high standards of behaviour and respect between each other at all times. We must: Always be open, honest and courteous with each other Not abuse others in speech, writing, social media or Not behave in any way that suggests prejudice or favouritism Not engage in, encourage or condone bullying, intimidation, harassment, unlawful discrimination or abuse of any kind Challenge any instances we encounter of bullying, intimidation, harassment, unlawful discrimination or abuse in the workplace, and show that such behaviour is not acceptable in our organisation Not exploit colleagues for loans, private work or favours of any kind Bullying and harassment procedure key principles Promoting high standards of behaviour The procedure has been developed with the support of our trade unions and demonstrates a joint commitment to promoting the highest standards of professional behaviour, consistent with our business standards. Our personal behaviour should focus on treating colleagues and customers with dignity and respect. Unacceptable behaviours will not be tolerated. Informal approach Before entering the formal process, it may be worth trying to deal with the issue informally if you feel able. Benefits of this approach are a quick resolution of the issue, maintaining good working relationships, and avoiding a formal investigation which often draws other people in as witnesses. In many cases, the person will be unaware that their behaviour is causing offence and typically asking them to stop, and confirming that their behaviour did cause offence and the reason why, may be sufficient to stop the issue happening again. In cases of serious bullying or harassment it may not be possible or appropriate to try to resolve the matter informally, in which case it should go straight into the formal process. You can contact the Bullying and Harassment Helpline for support on how to resolve the issue informally on telephone number They will be able to advise you on the best approach. This might include: Discussing the issue with the person involved Telephoning the person Writing a letter to the person Sending the person an When you raise your concerns with the person whose behaviour you found unacceptable, it is important that they understand why you find their behaviour unacceptable. Therefore in preparing to do this you will need to think through how you will tell the person: Why you want to discuss the issue Why you found the behaviour unacceptable The impact that the behaviour has had and how it made you feel That you want them to stop their unacceptable behaviour immediately Possible solutions you wish to discuss and what this may involve e.g. mediation When having the informal conversation or setting out the above in a letter, it is important this is done in a calm but firm way. Being aggressive or overly emotional should be avoided as this may hinder the discussion and prevent an informal resolution to the issue. Also prepare by trying to anticipate what they may say in response to the points you want to make, and how you would respond. You may also consider resolving the issue informally with the help of a third party by discussing the issue with your manager, union representative or a work colleague and requesting their help in resolving the issue. You should explain to the third party when the incident occurred and whether there was anything that triggered the matter. State why you were offended and discuss with the third party potential solutions to resolving the issue. This could include having someone mediate between yourself and the other person involved. A mediator will help you to: Identify what has happened by speaking confidentially to you and the other person Assess the best way to bring you both together Hold a joint meeting Explore the issues Build agreement for future working relationships If the issue remains unresolved or reoccurs, it is important to raise it formally as soon as possible. Raising a complaint If informal resolution isn t appropriate, or the behaviour has continued, you should raise a complaint formally. A complaint can be reported to your manager, your manager s manager, HR colleagues or by completing and returning a H1 form. This is available either from your manager, your union representative, the Independent Bullying and Harassment Helpline or online at You should include the name of the person involved, the date/s the issue happened, a description of the behaviour which you found unacceptable and your name and contact details. The form should then be sent to: Freepost ER Case Management Team Royal Mail HRSC 4th Floor Pond Street Sheffield S98 6HR A member of the ER Case Management Team will then contact you to discuss your complaint and agree next steps. Complaints which are deliberately false, fictitious or frivolous: Complaints that are deliberately false, fictitious or frivolous (not made in good faith) undermine the validity of the whole investigation process and damage the basis of good working relationships. While a guiding principle of the bullying and harassment procedure is that managers will treat all complaints seriously, there is an obligation upon all employees that complaints be made in good faith. If it is found that a complaint has not been brought in good faith, appropriate action may be taken under the Conduct Policy. 6 7

5 What can I do if I am being bullied or harassed at work? Make a record of the behaviour or language that you found unacceptable, including date, time, person involved, and any potential witnesses Consider whether you feel confident in resolving the situation informally Speak to a third party (manager, union representative or colleague) to ask for their support in resolving informally Call the Independent Bullying and Harassment Helpline for advice Consider asking for an independent mediator to help resolve the situation Complete a H1 form (available from your manager, union or the B&H helpline) and forward to the ER Case Management Team, Sheffield What happens during an investigation? You will be contacted by the nominated Investigating Manager, who may be a manager from the same work location, and will arrange to interview you to discuss your complaint in detail The Investigating Manager will then interview the other person/s involved You and the other person will receive copies of the interview notes Witnesses will be interviewed and copies of their interview notes will be shared with you and the other person at the end of the investigation. Anonymity may be considered when, in the opinion of the Investigating Manager, there is a genuine fear of intimidation or reprisal Cases will be handled as speedily as possible, aiming to complete the investigation within 35 days. Where there is a delay, both you and the other person will be notified Both you and the other person will receive a written summary of the Investigating Manager s conclusions and decision. You have the right to appeal the decision if it is not upheld The appeal will be conducted by another manager What should I do if I see someone else being harassed or bullied? Intervene politely and quietly and tell the other person to stop the behaviour or language which is unacceptable Stay calm, be respectful and speak with confidence. Project a positive, assertive attitude Don t be sarcastic or demeaning to either party In some circumstances introducing a bit of humour can lighten the situation Don t be provoked into an angry or aggressive response Remember the purpose of your intervention is to stop the inappropriate behaviour and resolve the dispute informally with the intention of retaining a good working relationship If necessary escort the person being bullied away from the situation Discuss the situation with the person and check that they are OK Supporting another person by challenging a bully in an appropriate way can build your own self confidence and self-esteem and improve relationships with colleagues in the workplace 8 9

6 Third party harassment advice A huge number of colleagues come directly into contact with our customers, whether on delivery, during collections, working in enquiry offices or on the telephone. There are very rare occasions when a colleague may be subject to assault or abuse from customers whilst carrying out their duties. Royal Mail Group takes this issue seriously and is committed to supporting you if such a situation occurs. If an incident occurs, concentrate on keeping cool, calm, and collected. This should help towards diffusing a potential inflammatory confrontation. Keep your voice steady and clear and use the customer s name if this is known Always speak respectfully Listen to what the customer has to say; don t get drawn into an argument If appropriate, respond to their comments with information but avoid inflaming the situation. For example, if their argument is regarding a particular service, explain the situation and say that you will refer back to your manager If the incident involves personal abuse, politely excuse yourself and either continue with your task or return to the office to speak to your manager. If it occurs on the telephone politely explain you will be closing the call When providing information to your manager, give all the facts, including location, time, what was actually said or done by the customer, [delete what was] the context of the incident (i.e. what happened just priorto the incident) and whether [delete were] any witnesses were present. If there were any witnesses to the incident, you should attempt to obtain their names, addresses and contact numbers if possible Once an incident has been brought to your manager s attention they will follow through your complaint and decide on an appropriate course of action Your manager will explain what actions they intend to take Some incidents may be distressing for you. You might want to discuss the incident with HELP employee assistance on Support is also available to employees from: Independent Bullying and Harassment Helpline To obtain confidential help and extra support you can contact the Bullying and Harassment Helpline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and run by an external company. Professional advisors can provide independent advice, including guidance on how to make a formal complaint and will even complete a form for you and send it to your home address. You can call free or text them on the number above or via the website CWU Bullying and Harassment Helpline Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week HELP employee assistance Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week A confidential helpline which provides you with access to advisors for any concern, worry or problem. Calls will be directed to the most appropriate person. Employee Health Service accessed through Atos Healthcare. Independent Bullying and Harassment Helpline CWU Bullying Pop out and the Harassment card and keep Helpline 0800 to 1071 hand for 909our bullying and harassment helplines HELP employee assistance All available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 10 11

7 Pop out the card and keep it to hand for our bullying and harassment helplines Royal Mail, the Cruciform and the colour red are registered trade marks of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Parcelforce Worldwide, Parcelforce and the Parcelforce Worldwide globe logo are registered trade marks of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Parcelforce Worldwide and Parcelforce are trading names of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered number Registered in England and Wales. Registered office: 100 Victoria Embankment, London, EC4Y 0HQ. Royal Mail Group Ltd All rights reserved. 12

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