SEXUAL HARASSMENT, HARASSMENT & ANTI-BULLYING POLICY.

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1 FÁS Community Training SEXUAL HARASSMENT, HARASSMENT & ANTI-BULLYING POLICY. Harassment in the workplace has been recognised as an unfortunate aspect of working life. It can take many forms though the most spoken about in the last decade or so has been sexual harassment in the workplace. More recently bullying and general harassment has come to the fore. Since 1985, cases of sexual harassment have been successfully prosecuted under the 1977 equality legislation. The 1998 legislation provides protection for other forms of harassment under the nine grounds laid out by the Act. Bullying and harassment could also give rise to action under the Health Safety and Welfare at Work Act of Therefore being realistic, there may be times when you will have to deal with a complaint of harassment of some sort or other. Always exercise caution when dealing with a complaint of harassment as emotions run high and the complainant may be distressed or angry. You should adopt a calm and rational approach and your initial response could steer the complainant towards a speedy resolution. The following procedures should be adopted when a complaint of harassment of any nature is made. As part of the Induction Module on all FÁS Programmes, Learners should be made aware of procedures for dealing with grievances and discipline. Page 1 of 7 Investing in your Future

2 Harassment FÁS has a responsibility to ensure that all Learners are assured of a training or work experience environment that is free from threat, harassment or intimidation. Sexual harassment is defined as: Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, or other conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work. Sexual harassment is regarded as discriminatory treatment, may be unlawful and may lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal, within the agreed disciplinary procedures. Harassment or Bullying is defined as: Any action or conduct of verbal, visual or physical that is unwelcome, offensive, humiliating or intimidating. Harassment is regarded as discriminatory on the grounds of marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the traveller community. Where harassment is proven it may lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal, within the agreed disciplinary procedures. Examples of some forms of sexual harassment are listed below: Non-verbal or visual sexual harassment Sexually suggestive or pornographic pictures and calendars Leering, offensive gestures, whistling. Verbal sexual harassment Unwelcome sexual advances Unwelcome pressure for social contact Sexually suggestive jokes, remarks or innuendo. Physical sexual harassment Unwelcome physical contact such as groping, pinching, patting or unnecessary touching. Unwelcome fondling or kissing. Sexual assault or rape. Page 2 of 7

3 Examples of harassment or bullying include the following: Non-verbal Offensive gestures Staring or aggressive facial expressions Isolation or non co-operation at work Ostracising or exclusion from social activities Unfair delegation of duties Taking credit for someone else s work Verbal Derogatory or offensive nicknames Verbal abuse Shouting and aggressive behaviour Using a person as a constant butt of jokes Sneering or public humiliation Slandering or maligning a fellow employee Physical Horse play Unwanted physical contact Assault (In the case of assault or rape, civil or criminal proceedings may be appropriate.) Page 3 of 7

4 Procedures for Handling Complaints Allegations of sexual harassment, harassment or bullying could arise between: Learners and Learners Learners and an employee of a company in which a Learner is placed Learners and a FÁS employee Learners and external trainers, Second Provider or their agents Second Providers are required to have the following in place: Procedures for handling complaints and appropriate discipline. Take responsibility for ensuring that the work or training environment is free of threat and harassment. That all Learners must be made aware of local management structures and of procedures for dealing with complaints. An explanation of how the procedures are applied should also be given. This information should be provided as part of the Induction Module. All complaints are treated seriously, promptly and confidentially. When disciplinary action is required, such action will be taken only against the harasser and not the victim. Individuals must be protected from intimidation and or victimisation resulting from a complaint of sexual harassment, harassment or bullying having been made by them or as a result of them assisting with the investigation. All complaints are logged in writing and management are informed. It is important to note that: Care should be taken to facilitate the complainant, while ensuring that both parties have adequate opportunity to make their case. Complainants should be able to bring their complaint to any member of management not just their direct Coordinator. Page 4 of 7

5 Procedures for handling complaints of Sexual Harassment, Harassment or Bullying between Learners: Once a complaint has been brought to the attention of the Coordinator or Trainer, it should be taken seriously. The Coordinator or Trainer should try to ascertain the nature and seriousness of the complaint. Ideally a Learner who is being sexually harassed, harassed or bullied should be encouraged in the first place, to try to deal with it informally with the alleged harasser, by making a strong statement as to the unacceptability of the behaviour. If the behaviour complained of is of such a serious nature or the complainant is reluctant to approach the alleged harasser, the Trainer should then inform their immediate Coordinator. If the informal approach does not work and the offensive behaviour continues, then the Trainer should log the complaint and inform their immediate Coordinator. In consultation with the relevant FÁS Manager, the Coordinator or appointed investigator should then conduct an investigation into the allegations and interview the relevant parties - the complainant, the alleged harasser and any witnesses. At the interview with the complainant, the investigator should establish what outcome would satisfy the complainant if the complaint is upheld, e.g. an apology from the alleged harasser. As part of the investigation process, the same Coordinator or representative of the FÁS Manager, should interview the alleged harasser and give him or her an opportunity to respond to the complaint(s). The alleged harasser should be reminded about the unacceptability of sexual harassment, harassment or bullying and the legal background to complaints of this nature. If the complaint is substantiated and is of such a nature to warrant minor discipline, a written record of this meeting, including undertakings and actions, should be signed by both the harasser and FÁS representative. If the complaint is substantiated and is a serious breach of FÁS policy, disciplinary action will be taken in consultation with the FÁS Manager. The harasser should be informed that disciplinary action will be taken. FÁS management should then be fully briefed and consulted as to what form disciplinary action should take. The harasser should then be informed of this decision. The complainant must be protected from further discrimination. Page 5 of 7

6 Procedure for handling complaints of Sexual Harassment, Harassment or Bullying perpetrated by a member of FÁS staff or agent of FÁS: In the event of a complaint of unwanted offensive behaviour (verbal, physical or visual) against a member of FÁS staff the following procedures apply: On the receipt of a complaint of sexual harassment, harassment or bullying, the FÁS Manager should have the complaint fully investigated. This must involve meeting separately with the complainant and the alleged harasser and any other relevant parties e.g. witnesses, to establish the extent and nature of the complaint If the complaint is substantiated, the alleged harasser should be advised of the unacceptability of this behaviour and reminded of the legal background to complaints of sexual harassment, harassment and or bullying. If the behaviour complained of is minor in nature, the alleged harasser will be asked to give a commitment in writing to immediately stop behaving in the manner complained of, duly signed by the harasser and the FÁS Manager. If the complaint is substantiated and is of a serious nature, FÁS management will refer the complaint to Personnel for consideration under Personnel Procedures. If the less serious behaviour persists, a follow up meeting should take place between the alleged harasser and FÁS management. The alleged harasser should then be advised that this complaint is being handed to Personnel for consideration under Personnel Procedures. In the event of harassment by an agent of FÁS the matter should be discussed between the FÁS agent and FÁS management. The same procedure as above should be followed. If there is no successful outcome, FÁS should demand the immediate withdrawal of the alleged harasser from the FÁS activity. Procedure for handling complaints of Sexual Harassment, Harassment or Bullying perpetrated by a Company Employee on a FÁS Learner. In the event of a complaint from a FÁS Learner on in-company training, the following action needs to be taken: An immediate meeting between the FÁS representative and the Learner to explore the basis and extent of the complaint If it is agreed between both parties, the Learner will make it known to the alleged harasser that his or her behaviour is unacceptable. Page 6 of 7

7 If, at the first meeting, the harassment is recognised as of a serious nature, the FÁS representative or FÁS agent, with the agreement of the Learner will speak to the employer. Agreement should be reached between FÁS and the employer that the employer will address the complaint in a prompt and confidential manner and will inform FÁS of the outcome The complainant must be protected from further discrimination or victimisation at all times Procedure for handling complaints of Sexual Harassment, Harassment or Bullying on Community-based FÁS Funded Programmes: Second Provider, firms and community groups are the employers of those individuals participating on the above Programmes and as such, they are responsible for ensuring that the work environment is free of sexual harassment. As employers, they need to be mindful of employees rights and be familiar with the legislation in this area. It should be clearly stated to both the project employer and Learner that while FÁS funds the project and may be involved by way of supervision or through providing assistance to the project, FÁS is not the employer. It is the responsibility of the individual Second Provider, firm and community group to put in place grievance and disciplinary procedures which can be used for all complaints, including incidents of harassment. Attention of the Second Provider should be drawn to these sexual harassment guidelines. If a Learner on a FÁS funded programme makes a complaint of harassment to you, you must refer them to their employer. It is their employer s responsibility to investigate and resolve the complaint. Page 7 of 7

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