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bullying and harassment policy

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All members of our team are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect in their place of work. This means freedom from behaviour by colleagues that can be interpreted as bullying or harassment and that causes offence. It also means that they should have access to redress if such behaviour does arise. Team members must maintain standards of everyday behaviour that contribute to a working environment in which mutual respect and individual dignity are maintained. They have a right to expect that their colleagues will do likewise.

bullying and harassment

Behaviour can constitute bullying or harassment where:

  • it violates the dignity of a team member on grounds of their race, colour, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment or age (the “protected characteristics”); or
  • where it creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Individual or accumulative acts can seriously undermine the dignity, confidence and work satisfaction to such an extent that it has an effect on job performance and general happiness both inside and outside work.

Conduct becomes harassment if it persists and it has been made clear that it is regarded as offensive by the recipient or a witness to the conduct, although a single offensive act can amount to harassment if it is sufficiently serious.

Bullying and harassment can be further defined in the following ways:

harassment based on race, colour or ethnic origin

Harassment based on race, colour or ethnic origin is conduct at work directed towards a colleague by another colleague or group of colleagues which is racist in nature and which is regarded as unwelcome or offensive by the recipient or a witness.

The following are examples that illustrate such conduct, though it is not an exhaustive list:

  • Jokes about race, colour or ethnic origin
  • Use of offensive names
  • References to colleagues by offensive racist descriptions
  • Use of offensive or insensitive stereotypes
  • Verbal abuse based on race, colour or ethnic origin
  • Circulation, or display, of offensive material based on race, colour or ethnic origin.

sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is conduct directed towards a colleague by another colleague or group of colleagues which is of a sexual nature, or which is based on a colleague’s gender, and which is regarded as unwelcome or offensive to the recipient or a witness.

The following are examples that illustrate such conduct, though it is not an exhaustive list:

  • Unwanted physical contact
  • Contact which is intimidating or physically or verbally abusive
  • Jokes that are based on sexual or gender issues
  • Non-verbal conduct such as staring or gestures
  • Suggestions that sexual favours may further a person’s career or that refusal may hinder it
  • Sexual advances, propositions, suggestions or pressure for sexual activity at or outside work.

harassment based on disability

Harassment based on disability is conduct directed towards a colleague by another colleague or group of colleagues which is based on the colleague’s disability or association with someone who has a disability and which is unwelcome to the recipient or a witness.

The following are examples that illustrate such behaviour, though this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Jokes about disability
  • Use of offensive names
  • Use of offensive or insensitive stereotypes
  • Verbal abuse based on disability
  • Circulation or display of offensive material based on disability
  • Deliberate actions designed to hinder a colleague’s ability to undertake his or her duties because of their disability.

harassment based on sexual orientation

Harassment based on sexual orientation is conduct directed towards a colleague by another colleague or group of colleagues which is based on the sexuality of the colleague and which is unwelcome to the recipient or a witness.

The following are examples that illustrate such behaviour, though this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Jokes about sexuality
  • Use of offensive names
  • Use of offensive or insensitive stereotypes
  • Verbal abuse based on sexuality
  • Circulation or display of offensive material based on sexuality.

harassment based on age

Harassment based on age is conduct directed towards a colleague by another colleague or group of colleagues which is based on the age of the colleague and which is unwelcome to the recipient or a witness.

The following are examples that illustrate such behaviour, though this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Jokes about age
  • Use of offensive names
  • Use of offensive or insensitive stereotypes
  • Verbal abuse based on age
  • Circulation or display of offensive material based on age.

detrimental behaviour because of being associated with a protected characteristic

Bullying and harassment may not be based on the fact that a colleague belongs to a particular group, but simply because the individual has been singled out for such treatment or associates with someone of a protected characteristic. For example, this would include claiming someone is gay when they are not or making fun of someone who has a disabled relative. The bullying and harassment may take the following forms, though again this is not intended as an exhaustive list:

  • Limiting or withdrawing verbal communication
  • Isolating a colleague by unfriendly behaviour
  • Behaviour designed to belittle or produce anxiety in a colleague
  • Unreasonable scrutiny of work
  • Unreasonable criticism of work and adopting double-standards in expectations of work performance
  • Unreasonable denial of leave and/or special leave requests
  • Unreasonable denial of requests for flexible working
  • Work or staff social activities that deliberately exclude a colleague
  • Jokes or inappropriate humour at the expense of a colleague.

standards of work behaviour

There are certain standards that we expect all team members to meet. They must:

  • Show courtesy towards colleagues
  • Show consideration and understanding of the work demands of colleagues
  • Maintain a temperate tone and temperate language in all verbal and written communications
  • Avoid the use of foul language
  • Be aware of language and conduct which have the potential to offend a colleague
  • Obtain the express or implied permission of a colleague before adopting familiarity in conduct or language.

what to do about bullying or harassment

Hygeia Dental Care is committed to ensuring that there is no harassment or bullying in the workplace. Allegations of harassment will be treated as a disciplinary matter, although every situation will be considered on an individual basis and in accordance with the principles of the practice’s grievance and disciplinary procedures which are set out in full in our contracts of employment. Additional copies are available on request from the Practice Director, Neil Phillips.

If you consider that you or a colleague is subject to bullying or harassment, your first step is to decide whether you can deal with the inappropriate behaviour informally. For example, if the act concerned is relatively minor, isolated or clearly unintentional. In these situations it is possible that the matter can be resolved immediately by letting your colleague know that the behaviour in question is unacceptable to you and should be avoided in future.

If you feel uncomfortable about raising the issue directly with your colleague, or if you consider that the behaviour is more serious because it was deliberate, part of a persistent pattern, serious in nature or has been repeated despite having discussed a previous incident informally, then you should report the matter to the Practice Director, Neil Phillips.  If it is inappropriate to discuss the matter with the Practice Director or if you are dissatisfied with the Practice Director’s decision you should seek advice from Dr Giddy or another colleague whom you trust.

harassment by patients

Hygeia dental care also expects appropriate standards of behaviour from patients. We expect patients to treat team members with the same respect we show toward our patients and to one another. We will not tolerate harassment, violence, abuse, offensive language or other inappropriate behaviour by patients toward our team members.

If any team member considers that a patient’s behaviour amounts to harassment, they should report this immediately to the Practice Director, Neil Phillips, who will investigate and take appropriate action, as necessary. Such action may include but is not limited to de-registration of the patient.

Web version 1: 6.2.2011 (Reviewed 26.1.2012; 13.3.2013; 19.6.2014; 5.6.2015; 3.8.2016; 1.9.2017)

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