Chapter 11. The NTF and NASS have agreed a dignity at work policy a copy of which is set out in the appendix to this chapter.

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1 Chapter 11 HARASSMENT AND BULLYING/DIGNITY AT WORK 11.1 Harassment and bullying overview Harassment at work may give rise to a claim by an employee that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender re-assignment. To amount to unlawful harassment under the discrimination legislation, the conduct at issue must be unwanted and the purpose or the effect of the conduct must be to violate the individual s dignity or to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person. Harassment on grounds other than one of the grounds listed in the first paragraph is not unlawful discrimination. This means that a person who is simply harassed or bullied has no remedy under discrimination law. However an employer who fails to deal with a complaint of such harassment or bullying could find themselves facing an unfair constructive dismissal claim if the employee resigns and claims that the employer has broken the implied contractual obligation to maintain trust and confidence towards that employee. It is also likely to affect the working environment adversely. An employer could be liable to pay compensation towards anyone harassed by its employees if the harasser pursued a course of conduct during the course of his or her employment that the person knew or ought to have known amounted to harassment Dignity at Work Policy The NTF and NASS have agreed a dignity at work policy a copy of which is set out in the appendix to this chapter. Employers are advised to ensure all workers are aware of the policy and that workers understand their obligations and the behaviour expected of them. Training upon the yard s dignity at work policy should be included as part of the induction process for new workers. Some employers may find it useful to have employees trained as counsellors to provide support advice and information to workers. ACAS ( provide training courses throughout the country How to handle a bullying or harassment complaint As a first step the employer should investigate the matter promptly and objectively. Once the matter has been investigated the employer can decide what action needs to be taken. In some cases it may be possible to rectify matters informally. Where the matter cannot be resolved informally, the employer must deal with the grievance formally under the yard s grievance procedure and if disciplinary action is necessary use the yard disciplinary procedure (see chapter 14 for the grievance procedure and chapter 6 for the disciplinary procedure). Counselling may be useful particularly where the investigation shows no cause for disciplinary action or where there is doubt cast on the validity of the complaint. The employer should also consider whether an employee who has suffered bullying or harassment needs counselling or assistance with stress management. Racing Welfare or local anti-bullying organisations may be able to assist Suspension If there appears to be serious misconduct, the employer may feel it appropriate to separate the parties. Some yards may be able to do this without suspending an employee from duty although the person making the complaint should not be transferred unless they ask for a move. A period of suspension of the alleged bully/harasser should be a last resort and must be with pay and the period as short as possible. 127 National Trainers Federation October 2010

2 11.5 Disciplinary sanction Formal disciplinary action should only be imposed after following the procedure referred to in chapter 5 for misconduct. The employer must decide whether disciplinary action is appropriate or whether counselling or training is preferable. Where disciplinary action is to be imposed, all the circumstances should be taken into account including the employee s disciplinary and general record, whether the procedure points to the likely penalty, the action taken in any previous cases, any explanations and circumstances to be considered and whether the penalty is reasonable. It should be noted that where a yard is split over different locations or has a satellite yard, the transfer of an employee (unless provided for in the employee s contract or agreed by the employee preferably in writing) could be a breach of the employee s contract if they suffer detriment from it, i.e. more expense in travelling to a different location, and such a breach could lead to a claim of constructive dismissal. If the bullying or harassment is such that the employer considers it amounts to gross misconduct, dismissal without notice may be appropriate and the procedure in chapter 5 (misconduct) must be followed Other action If a yard has had a case of bullying or harassment, the employer should review the yard s policies, procedures and working practices to see if they can be improved. ACAS provides training courses on dignity at work and there are guidance leaflets available on their website for both employers and employees see National Trainers Federation October 2010

3 AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR STABLE STAFF AND THE NATIONAL TRAINERS FEDERATION ON BULLYING, HARASSMENT AND DIGNITY AT WORK JOINT POLICY STATEMENT The NTF and NASS believe that it is in everyone s interests to promote a safe, healthy and fair environment in which people can work effectively. Both parties recognise that bullying and harassment can cause serious problems in the workplace. Bullying and harassment should not be tolerated by anyone and trainers should ensure that any complaint of bullying or harassment is taken seriously and investigated promptly and objectively. STATUS This policy does not give contractual rights to individual employees. This procedure applies to all employees but the procedure set out below does not apply once an employee has stopped working for a company although where a complaint has been raised by an employee who leaves after raising the complaint, the employer will follow this procedure as far as practicable to investigate and resolve any substantiated matter. All employers have a general duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment, which includes protection from bullying and harassment at work. All employees have a duty not to bully or harass each other nor to help anyone else to do so. It is important to realise that conduct which one person may find acceptable another may find totally unacceptable and that all employees must treat their colleagues with respect and appropriate sensitivity. WHAT IS BULLYING AND HARASSMENT? It is treatment from one person (or a group of people) to another relating to one or more protected characteristics that is unwanted and that has the effect of violating that person s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offence environment for that person. Protected characteristics is a new concept introduced by the Equality Act 2010 and covers the groups protected by existing legislation, namely: age disability gender re-assignment marriage and civil partnership pregnancy and maternity race (including colour, nationality, ethnic origin, national origin) religion or belief sex sexual orientation National Trainers Federation October

4 Examples of bullying and harassment include: verbal or written abuse, jokes, banters or pranks related to a person s protected characteristics in front of others or behind the victim s back or related to a person s perceived protected characteristics (for example where someone is a victim of unwanted banter and jokes that they are gay, even though their work colleagues know the person is not) or related to a person s associated protected characteristics (for example, where someone is a victim of bullying because they have a disabled son) the display of pin-ups, pornography, abusive or offensive literature physical intimidation including assault unfair work allocation, changing work without consultation to include impossible deadlines unwanted sexual advance unwanted derogatory remarks, lewd or suggestive gestures refusing to work with or deliberately isolating fellow employees or withholding information that the person needs to enable them to do their job Bullying does not include appropriate and reasonable criticism of an employee s behaviour or proper performance management. PROCEDURE Where a complaint under this policy is brought to the attention of the trainer, his or her representative, the NTF or NASS, the aim will be to ensure that prompt and corrective action is taken which will include an investigation. Should this investigation indicate that a disciplinary offence has been committed the employer s disciplinary procedure will be instigated which may result in disciplinary action being taken against the offender, which may result in dismissal. Whilst the emphasis will be to resolve the matter informally, the complainant will retain the absolute right to raise the matter formally using his or her employer s grievance procedure. Care will be taken during any investigation of the allegations made under this policy to protect the interests and confidentiality of both the complainant and the alleged harasser. Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the complainant or the alleged harasser may itself be considered as a disciplinary issue. This is to be read in conjunction with the NTF and NASS disciplinary agreement and grievance procedure or the employer s own disciplinary and grievance procedures, if different. RESPONSIBILITY OF EMPLOYEES, SENIOR STAFF AND SUPERVISORS It is the responsibility of all employees to comply with this policy and the particular responsibility of senior staff and supervisors to ensure that it is carried out, with a view to developing and maintaining a working environment in which harassment and bullying are understood by all to be unacceptable. To this end, a copy of this policy is provided to all employees who are expected to familiarise themselves with it and abide by its provisions. It is fully expected that all employees will act responsibly regarding this issue. Proven false accusations of bullying can have serious adverse effect on innocent individuals. Therefore, should an investigation show that a false accusation has been made in bad faith, appropriate disciplinary action may follow. However an employee who brings a complaint in good faith will not be subject to any detriment by the employer. 130 National Trainers Federation October 2010

5 THIRD PARTY HARASSMENT The law protects employees from being harassed or bullied by a customer, supplier or someone else with whom the employee comes into contact at work (for example a delivery driver). If an employee is being bullied or harassed by a third party, the employee should raise it with their immediate manager so that the employer can decide how best to deal with the situation in consultation with the employee. TERMINATION Either party wishing to alter or terminate this agreement shall do so by giving three months notice in writing to the other. DATE OF AGREEMENT This agreement is effective from October National Trainers Federation October

6 132 National Trainers Federation October 2010

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